Letting your dog out into the garden to stretch their legs and do their business is a natural part of many pet owners day. However, without realizing it, that simple act could be killing them.
In suburban areas where it is possible to have a sizeable lawn, there can be a lot of pressure put on you by yourself and your neighbors to have the ‘perfect’ lawn. The desire to have the greenest, thickest lawn possible has led to a proliferation of pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in the average garden. With these products accounting for nearly a third of all garden products purchased annually.
One study has shown that this rise in garden chemicals is beginning to negatively affect the health of our pets as they sniff and roll their way around the lawn. Of the 25 dogs that were tested during the study, 19 were found to have elevated levels of toxic chemicals in their bloodstream. Even dogs that didn’t spend long in the garden were exposed, due to the presence of the chemicals on clothes of their family.
This prolonged exposure can cause your pets serious health issues and leads to thousands of cases of pesticide poisoning in family pets each year in the United States. Although chemical companies argue that a minimal use of garden pesticides will not cause damage, they fail to account for thousands of pets with a lower sensitivity threshold.
What symptoms to look for
With pesticides being used so widely both personally and commercially it is essential that you are acutely aware of the symptoms that can lead to an early diagnosis of pesticide poisoning. Therefore, even if you don’t use any pesticides at all in your garden, there is still a chance of poisoning – although it will be severely reduced.
If your cat or dog is suffering from any of the issues below it is of the utmost importance to get them to a vet as soon as possible. Seeing the signs early can dramatically lower the chances of fatality.
- Muscle tremors
- Constricted pupils
- Increased heart rate
- Lack of coordination
- Respiratory failure
To ensure that you don’t poison your pets it’s imperative that you don’t use chemicals on your lawn and in your garden. So the question becomes what should I use instead?
Thankfully there are plenty of solutions out there! Whether your issue is with insects or weeds, there are natural ways that you can deal with them.
- Natural compost – rather than investing in chemically enhanced fertilizers just remember that you don’t need to clear away every blade of grass after cutting. If you cut your grass when it is around three inches high by an inch, the cut grass will mix seamlessly with the growing grass so you won’t be left with random clumps of chopped grass on your lawn.
- Watch your weeds – for a perfect grass lawn most people think that weeds are a bad thing, but they don’t have to be. Dandelion growth is a sign that the ph level of your soil is too high, and clover is a sign that the soil is low in nitrogen. Both problems can be solved with additional compost which will add the necessary nutrients to the soil. Learn what each weed means for the grass so you can learn what it needs to grow better.
- Weed removal – once you’ve understood exactly why the weeds have become a problem removal of them can also be done naturally without damaging the health of your pets. Rub the surface of the plants with vinegar, be careful not to get it on the grass as it will also damage your lawn.
- Weed prevention – if you are worried about weeds growing back you can use corn gluten (a natural byproduct of corn processing) to reduce weed survival rates by up to 60%. Corn gluten comes in pellets which can be sprinkled across your lawn in the spring to avoid an outbreak of weeds in your lawn.
- Keep your mower blades sharp – dull blades will cause the tips of the grass to shrivel and go brown. To maintain a beautiful and green lawn get the blades sharpened at least once a year.
- Slugs and snails – these pests can cause serious damage to any garden and for a lot of people the temptation to throw down pesticides in the hope of killing them is high. However, for the sake of your pet’s health, it is best to go with a more traditional approach. Scatter crushed eggs shells across your lawn, focussing primarily on damp areas of your lawn. The sharp shells are uncomfortable on the soft underbellies of slugs and snails, meaning they will avoid them at all costs.
- Remove Japanese beetles – as an invasive species in the US, Japanese beetle grubs have caused severe damage to lawns and crops. To remove them from your garden without harming either your pets or the naturally occurring bugs that are crucial to soil health, use milky spore powder. Milky spore is a naturally occurring disease that kills the grubs of the Japanese beetle but does no harm to any other animal in your garden. Applying this to your lawn two-three times a year should eradicate your beetle problem.
Having a beautiful garden with a great lawn is something that can make such a huge difference to your home. It becomes a place you can host important events, kids can play, and your pets can run. Don’t let each of those things be ruined by pumping your garden full of toxic chemicals. Take pride in a beautiful garden where nature and your pets can thrive.