Hidden Health Risks for Your Pets in Having a Green Lawn

FOX 32 News Chicago

Hidden Health Risks for Your Pets in Having a Green Lawn

Dr. Barbara Royal


Do you know for certain that you and your pets are safe from harm when you fertilize and treat your lawn?

  1.  The data from current studies suggests that even with proper use and restrictions, these chemicals are not safe for our pets or our families.  –Also, no studies have been done to evaluate the impact of repeated exposure of chemicals in lawn care.
  2. Studies are also showing that many of these chemicals can trigger cancers and other health problems.  Specifically — studies have linked urinary bladder cancer to certain chemicals in lawn care.  This is especially true for animals with a genetic propensity for this cancer (eg.West Highland White Terriers).
  3.  Over 70% of animals that live in households where lawns are treated will have urine that tests positive for lawn chemicals – even if all “safe practices” about timing and drying are followed.
  4.  Exposure can come from your own lawn, your neighbor’s lawn and from any parks or areas where these chemicals are used.
  5.  It’s this chemical “cocktail” of constant exposure on a daily basis that we should protect pets against.
  6.  “Safe to re-enter” claims rely on a certain density of lawn.  Brown or thin areas will harbor larger concentrations of lawn chemicals. Pets will walk everywhere…
  7.  DIY applications may expose pets more because of poor calibration of equipment or limited expertise in application.
  8.  Many fertilizer pellets are built to remain on the ground for weeks in a plastic coating that is not approved for pet consumption.  Pets may eat, lick or carry these in their fur/feet.
  9.  Dogs lick their feet and fur, their noses are in the ground, fur picks up residues of pesticides when rolling on the grass.  It is carried into their system, and into your house.  Pets are typically naked, and their skin/fur harbors and absorbs chemicals.
  10.  Lawn products: Fertilizer, Pesticides, Herbicides, Fungicides, create a cocktail of health risks for pets and our families.



  1.  Lawns need a detox!!  Safe Lawn, Safe Pets, Safe Home.  Try to limit exposure to chemicals in your yard.
  2.  Lawn services can use organic, pet-safe fertilizers.  Ask them, and check what they are using regularly, because products can be hard to source.
  3.  There are not many, but some pet safe products are available and more are coming.
  4.  Play Safe is one.  (Sold in many of the northwest and southwest suburban Pet Supplies Plus –it is sold in pet stores because it’s creators deliberately made it to be safe for pets).
  5.  We could change how we look at a pure green monoculture of “perfect” grass.  If we could value our pets’ health more, we might start to look at a few weeds in the yard as the sign of a healthy pet.



  1.  Are topical pesticides (topical pesticide fleas/tick prevention) safe for pets, and are people exposed to the chemicals in them from the dog?
  2.  There is a reason we don’t put pesticides on ourselves. They are not benign.  “Wear Gloves” until it dries…  That alone makes me nervous.  Studies have shown that even after it dries, our pets and their humans are still being exposed to the pesticides.
  3.  Even during seasons and in locations where exposure to fleas and ticks is very limited, owners religiously apply topical pesticides every month, adding to the toxic load on their pets and families.
  4.  When dogs with a topical pesticide applied to fight fleas and ticks swim in ponds, they may even cause invertebrates around them to die.



  1. Be sure to check your dog regularly for fleas and ticks during the season – spring and early summer is worst for Ticks, and late summer is worst for Fleas.
  2. Remove any ticks with a tweezer, and gentle slow traction.  Don’t use matches or alcohol.
  3. Ticks themselves can be tested for tick borne diseases.  Ask your vet.
  4. There are terrific natural ways to fight ticks and fleas. Vetri-SCIENCE Vetri Repel and Mercola Flea & Tick Defense sprays (spray on about 1 x week), and Only Natural Pet (leave on topical with natural oils) are products that I recommend and my clients have been very happy with them.


Keeping animals healthy helps fight off parasites.  Maintain a healthy immune system, and provide fresh healthy foods, and discuss supplements as needed with a holistic vet.


AND REMEMBER– There are no perfect solutions.  I have still seen ticks on animals that have even the strongest topical pesticides.  These chemicals are not fool-proof either, and there is real concern about creating a line of super-drug-resistant pests in our over-chemical world.  For a printable copy to keep for your records follow this link – Hidden Health Risks for Your Pets in Having a Green Lawn.

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