Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Springtime dog safety alert: Watch out for weed/feed lawn products!

Sinead the Boston terrier with her pineapple toy

Sinead the Boston terrier's little paws get quite a workout on a daily basis. She uses them to gnaw on her little toys (right now, she's pretty obsessed with this pineapple from her BarkBox), but she also trots along on those little paws during our two daily walks around the neighborhood.

And in the springtime, I must be extra careful in order to keep her little paws safe.

The temperatures here are climbing into the 70s, and many of my neighbors are sprinkling their front lawns and parking strips with pellets that contain grass seed and weed killers. These weed-and-feed products can be incredibly hard on a dog's body.

While weed-and-feed product manufacturers often use reassuring text (like this) to suggest that their products are safe around people and pets, there's quite a bit of fine print that gives me pause. For example, most products come with warnings about watering. People should put the stuff down and water it in thoroughly. Only then is it considered safe for pets.

But, I've seen plenty of people pop this stuff down in the spring and then just wait for the rains to come. It rains a lot here in Oregon, so that's a fairly reasonable thing to do. If I didn't have pets and I wasn't worried about contamination, I'd probably just put the stuff down and hope the weather guy was right about rain coming later in the day.

But if it doesn't rain, or it doesn't rain enough to break these pellets down, that means dogs walking on parking strips could be walking through toxins. And they could bring those toxins on home.

When we're out on a stroll in the springtime, I'm on alert for little white residue on the sidewalk. If I see it, we keep walking and don't make any stops for sniffing, peeing or pooping. And, if the grass seems somehow too lush and too green to be natural, we keep walking, too. That's the best way to ensure that these guys don't walk in things they shouldn't touch.

And, when we get home, everybody has a good wipedown with a damp paper towel, just in case I missed any residue.

Now, all of this may seem a little paranoid. But doubters out there should read through this blog post.  Note that this woman had labs performed on her dogs, and note that they had liver damage. While it's possible that the liver damage took hold due to something else altogether, I find it a little nerve-wracking that my dogs could have even any risk of organ failure due to weed and feed on a walk. I'm not willing to chance it.

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