Lawn care and dog health

Fertilizer pic

Here’s something that drives me nuts: In some neighborhoods here in Southern California, having a perfectly green lawn is a matter of civic pride. But at what cost to our pets?

I’ve had the photo above in my iPhone for awhile now and finally had to share it. How ironic is it that the pesticide manufacturer chose to show a dog on the bag of a lawn-care insecticide product, when studies have linked use of such chemicals with canine cancer?

The primary bug-killing ingredient in this product is bifenthrin, a pyrethroid that is a possible carcinogen. People: is obliterating bugs and having a green lawn worth it when it means possibly sickening your pets? “Protect your lawn from invading bugs”? How about protect your pets from harmful pesticides.

Dogs walking and rolling on treated grass pick up traces of these chemicals. Studies have shown links between risk of canine lymphoma and bladder cancer with certain herbicides and pesticides. And cancer isn’t the only concern. According to the Pesticide Action Network, pyrethroids are listed as possible carcinogens by the EPA, and can affect the central and peripheral nervous system. Poisoning symptoms include muscle tremors, hyperexcitability, depression, ataxia, vomiting, seizures, anorexia and death.

If wiping out bugs and having an emerald green lawn is that important, a group called Pesticide Watch based in Sacramento offers these chemical-free alternatives:

  1. Adjust the pH so that your soil is at peak pH for grass to grow (around 6.5).
  2. Use organic, slow-release fertilizer.
  3. Overseed to encourage more  grass to grow. Spread seed especially in the spring and fall.
  4. Mow high (around 3 inches) to crowd out weeds.

The group also recommends spreading the word about dangerous lawn chemicals by putting “pesticide free” lawn signs up and talking to neighbors about their use of lawn care products. Wind can carry herbicides about 50 feet from the application site, according to an expert at Purdue University, so what your neighbors do can affect your animals’ health. You can read up on canine cancer research at Morris Animal Foundation.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. It’s almost time for manure-on-the-lawn season, another pet peeve (ahem) of mine, so to speak. Time to walk the dog…




2 thoughts on “Lawn care and dog health

  1. thiswholewideworld June 25, 2014 / 6:59 pm

    Rant well done. I’m now wondering how many public grass areas are treated with these chemicals. I’ll be watching my dog!

    • West-centric June 26, 2014 / 6:02 pm

      Indeed. Just this morning while walking my dog I saw a guy from a yard service spraying a lawn. No sign or anything, so nobody would even know it was sprayed unless you saw it happening. Needless to say, we crossed the street.

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