If you have pets that go out onto your lawn and you want a healthy lawn and a healthy pet, it’s critical to know how long it takes before your lawn is pet safe after adding fertilizer. However, the type of fertilizer and what’s added to it can make a huge difference in how long it takes before a lawn is safe for your dog or other pet. Below are the best guidelines for knowing when a freshly fertilized lawn is pet safe.
How Long to Keep Your Dog Off the Grass After Fertilizing
If the product you use claims to be “pet safe”, follow the directions on the packaging to the letter and allow an extra 12 to 24 hours to elapse after application. While the recommended time is correct for skin contact, it often fails to take grooming efforts by your pet into account.
If the animal licks the substance from its fur or paws, harm could still occur. Cleaning any part of your pet that had come into contact with the lawn could prevent this, but the cleaning should be done thoroughly and with soap and water rather than a dry towel.
Why Fertilizer Isn’t Safe for Dogs or Other Pets Initially
Most commercially available fertilizers are highly concentrated. This makes shipping more efficient and often means easier and more even application. However, this also means that these fertilizers are more likely to harm any animals or people they come in direct contact with.
Once the fertilizer is absorbed by the plant or makes its way into the soil, people and pets are less likely to come in direct contact with these fertilizers and harm can be avoided. The exceptions to this rule are fertilizers that remain on top of plants or soil. These should not be used if dogs or other pets are going to come into direct contact with the lawn. Fertilizers with insecticides, especially permethrins, should be avoided.
Which Lawn Fertilizers are Least Harmful to Dogs and Other Pets
The least harmful fertilizers will always be the least potent and most “natural.” You may need to apply them more frequently, but there may need to be no more than a 20 minute waiting period after applying these fertilizers. This is just long enough to allow them to settle and for the grass to dry off a bit.
However, as with all substances, too much of anything can be toxic to people, pets, and even your lawn. Keep the application of all fertilizers light and frequent to reduce the likelihood of harm.
- Lime – Lime can be added to a lawn sparingly and still be pet safe. Always water the lawn to help the lime settle into the soil.
- Bonemeal – A substance made of ground bones that can add calcium and other trace minerals to your lawn. Bonemeal should be watered into your lawn after dry application. Gypsum can also be used for a similar effect.
- Corn Gluten Meal – A natural pre-emergent herbicide that also provides a small amount of nitrogen to your soil. Can be sprinkled on a lawn and watered in.
- Compost or Manure “Tea” – One of the best natural fertilizers and the most likely to be pet safe is a light application of compost or manure “tea” each week.
Which Lawn Fertilizers are Most Harmful to Dogs and Other Pets
The most harmful fertilizers will be the most “intense” or strongest. Slow-release fertilizers are also in this category as, if they are ingested by your pet, they do not remain in their slow-release state.
- Pesticides – Fertilizers that contain pesticides can cause chemical toxicity and may poison pets on contact. Certain dog breeds, including shepherds, border collies, and small dogs, may be sensitive to a broader range of insecticides than other dog breeds.
- Herbicides – Fertilizers mixed with herbicides can cause chemical burns and may induce vomiting in dogs.
- Cocoa Mulches and Fertilizers – We’ve all heard that chocolate can poison a dog and cocoa mulches are no different.
- Fertilizers that Sit on the Soil – Bonemeal, compost, manure, and even wholly natural substances should always be made into a “tea” and flushed into the soil. It should never be left in piles over the lawn so that a dog or other animal can ingest it. Though a dog may think these things smell appetizing, they can all cause internal issues if consumed in large quantities.
What to Do If Your Dog Comes Into Contact with a Recently Fertilized Lawn
If your dog comes into contact with a recently fertilized lawn, wash their paws or any part of them that made direct contact first. Next, encourage them to drink as much water as they are willing to. The addition of a small amount of sugar or Karo syrup to the water can help encourage them to do so.
If any concerning symptoms appear, contact your local animal hospital, veterinarian, or the ASPCA poison control hotline at (888)426-4435 immediately and explain your situation. If possible, tell them the exact substance that the animal came into contact with. This can greatly expedite possible treatments.
How Long After Fertilizing a Lawn is it Safe for Pets?
The specific answer to this question relies on the type of fertilizer, how much was applied, the form it was applied in, the weather, and the type of pet. The short answer is 2 days for large dogs, 3 days for small dogs (under 20 lbs), and 4 days to a week for cats.
However, if the fertilizer in question contains any insecticide, permethrin, disulfoton, or other toxic substances that can be fatal on contact, it may take a lot longer for the area to be safe for pets. In cases like this, several heavy watering sessions 2 to 3 days apart can help speed up the breakdown or absorption of these substances. In these cases, it may be best to contact an authority such as a local animal hospital, poison control, or the product’s helpline for the most accurate time estimate.