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How to Protect Pets from Lawn Chemicals
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Oh the smells of summer!  Suntan lotion, salty sea air, fresh cut grass and…pesticides. 

As a pet sitter and pet parent, nothing raises the hair on the back of my neck like the smell of poison in the air when I’m about to take a dog for a walk.  If I can notice it with a nose that’s five feet off the ground, I can only imagine what a nose in the grass is experiencing.  And it’s not just what might be inhaled.

Whether it’s a cat stalking butterflies, or a dog chasing a Frisbee, our pets are knee deep in the lawn.  They pick up whatever’s there on their paws and fur and bring it inside to their favorite napping spots -- and even into their own bodies -- as they lick their fur during a grooming session.      

So as the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers on lawns and parks continues, whether by our neighbors, our homeowners’ associations, or even ourselves, it is important to make sure we know how to keep our pets safe.

There are different types of applications requiring different types of precautions.  Wet sprays need to dry before it is considered safe.  Dry applications need to dissolve.  But the container label for the product used will be the most accurate source of the specific precautions recommended to keep pets safe.  

If you didn’t apply the treatment yourself, find out the name of the chemical used and what its label specifically recommends for pets, by calling the company that administered the treatment.  Usually, when pesticides have been applied, the company will post little flags around the area.  Sometimes these flags will give you the name of the company, the date of application, and how long to leave the flags in place.  It is assumed that the period of time the flag is to be left in place is the amount of time to be cautious when bringing pets into the area.  But it’s best to double-check.

If the company isn’t listed, ask the homeowner’s association or the neighbor whose lawn was treated for the company’s information. 

Knowing the exact product used will also help a veterinarian decide on treatment if a pet has been exposed.  If you suspect your pet is having a reaction of some kind, call your vet immediately.  Also, keep the following numbers handy and have a credit card ready as there is a fee for the help they provide:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 1-888-426-4435

National Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680

Besides keeping pets away from known treated areas and following the label recommendations, it might be a good idea to wash off their paws before allowing them into the home again after any time outside, since it may not always be obvious that someone has applied chemicals in an area pets may wander.  Always keep your eye on your pets when they are outside, also, in case they come across an ill or deceased animal.  A poisoned wild animal can poison your pet. 

With a little due diligence we can enjoy the sweet smells of summer and keep our pets safe.