The adverse health effects of pesticides don’t just harm humans. Avid pet enthusiast and writer Jenny Holt explores ways to protect your furry friends from risky lawn care products.
Marie Donovan came home from work one day to find her dog acting lethargic and uncoordinated. His refusal of his favorite treats especially worried Marie. Not sure what was wrong with her pup, she took him to the vet. After some blood tests, Marie discovered that her dog exhibited symptoms of toxic poisoning from pesticides used in her garden.
Unfortunately, Marie Donovan’s story happens frequently in America. Many of the chemicals we use in our gardens can affect pets, and their overuse or misuse can have fatal results for cats, dogs, and other small animals. If concerned about your pet’s safety, you have options to maintain your yard without putting any of your furry friends in danger.
Which Lawn Chemicals are Dangerous for Pets?
Every year, millions of American households use pesticides in their gardens and lawns potentially harmful to their pets. In 2014, pesticide sales accounted for a staggering 32% of all lawn and garden supply sales. To protect your pet, avoid these groups of pesticides when exploring the market of products available:
• Organophosphates such as Chlorpyrifos and Diazinon can cause acute symptoms in animals, including muscle weakness, excessive salivation, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. At high enough doses, these compounds can also lead to respiratory failure and death.
• Carbamates, including Carbofuran and Methomyl, can cause difficulty breathing, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, unconsciousness, and excessive salivation. The most serious cases of exposure result in seizures and respiratory arrest.
• Phenoxy and benzoic acid herbicides affect the nervous system, causing muscle twitching, loss of sensation, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and dermatitis. Commonly found compounds in this group include 2,4-D MCPP and MCPA.
• Pyrethroids such as Permethrin and Resmethrin can, also, wreak havoc on the nervous system. Excessive exposure causes tremors, hyperexcitability, ataxia, vomiting, seizures, anorexia, and even death in pets.
• Organochlorines include PCBs, PCE, and DDT, all of which can cause muscle tremors and twitches, respiratory problems, and seizures. Lindane falls under this group, and its use is restricted in the U.S. due to health and safety concerns. Other organochlorines such as Endosulfan are still widely available.
Are There Any Safe Alternatives to Common Lawn Chemicals?
MPAC’s Eco-Friendly Lawn Care Catalog lists organic, environmentally friendly pesticides that you can choose to minimize your pet’s exposure to toxic chemicals. According to state law, you can also request pest control companies to notify your neighborhood of lawn chemical applications, allowing you to keep your pet and your family safe.
What Steps Can I Take to Keep My Pet Safe?
A natural lawn care routine can keep your garden beautiful without having to worry about the safety of your furry friend. Properly fertilizing, watering and mowing your garden will keep your plants healthy and pest-free while preventing nutrient runoff.
If you need to use lawn care products, stick to eco-friendly solutions and avoid overuse or overexposure. Keep your pet indoors when applying any sort of chemical or pesticide to your lawn or garden. Finally, keep your shoes outside to avoid tracking any toxins into your home.