If you’re the type of homeowner that spends significant time keeping your lawn prim and proper, you know fall is the prime time of year for lawn care. From raking leaves to fertilizing to winterizing your garden, there’s plenty to do in prepping your lawn for the season ahead and the eventual spring to come. But while you might be focused on tending your lawn, it’s important to make sure you’re not doing it at the expense of your dog’s health.
Your lawn may be the pride and joy of your property’s curb appeal, but to your dog, it’s everything from their playground to their bathroom. How you tend your lawn this fall could impact your dog in ways you didn’t realize. Here’s what to watch out for.
Lawn care chemicals and winterization
For those who want to start spring with lush, green grass, fall is the time to fertilize. It’s one of the most basic tenants of lawn care. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most hazardous for your dog.
Fertilizer may be great for your grass and soil, but it’s downright dangerous for our furry friends. Fertilizers primarily contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—all of which are hard for your dog’s body to absorb and process. After being exposed to them in moderate dosages, your dog may develop lethargy, skin and paw sensitivities, vomiting, diarrhea and a slew of other problems. They don’t need to ingest it, either. Fertilizer is meant to be highly permeable so the soil can absorb it—which means it’ll stick to your dog’s paws and fur, eventually absorbing through their skin.
Fertilizer isn’t the only dangerous chemical prevalent during the fall, though. Chances are, you’re also using a pesticide or weed killer to get your garden ready for the winter. Insecticides are also popular as we work to keep pests from taking shelter in our homes. Unfortunately, all of these are highly toxic to dogs and very easy for them to absorb or ingest.
The solution? Be mindful of when and how you apply these chemicals to your lawn. Most take at least 24 to 48 hours to absorb safely into the ground, so it’s smart to split up the front and back yards and take your dog out to use the bathroom on the untreated side. Another way to expedite fertilizer absorption is to water your lawn or fertilize before rain is in the forecast.
Lawn equipment and grooming
Chemicals and treatments aren’t the only hazards for dogs this fall. You should also keep your equipment usage in mind. You may not realize how dangerous simple lawn care equipment is for dogs until there’s an accident!
Leaf blowers are the number-one danger to dogs. It might be fun to blow leaves up and have your dog chase them, but beware of just how powerful your blower is. Some leaf blowers have the power to send small projectiles flying at high speeds! Sticks, small stones and dust can all harm your dog if they’re blown at close proximity.
Another piece of lawn care equipment that’s potentially harmful is a trimmer. If you cut your lawn shorter in the fall, that means you’re trimming shorter as well, which could inadvertently kick up pebbles and debris. If your dog is nearby, they could become injured due to flying projectiles—including trimmer wire that becomes broken off.
On the grooming side of things, beware of mulch. Many dogs like to dig in mulch or chew larger pieces of it. Much is often treated with herbicides and dyes, making it harmful for dogs to ingest. Some mulch—like cocoa mulch—is naturally toxic for dogs in the same way chocolate is. Bottom line: don’t let your pup play in the mulch!
Beware fall’s other lawn maintenance dangers
Depending on where you live, there are a few other lawn-related dangers to look out for this fall.
First, don’t let your dog explore the delicacies of local flora. In simpler terms: don’t let them eat wild mushrooms or ground-level flowering plants. Many fall growers are toxic to animals (and humans). Your dog doesn’t know any better and could make themselves very sick by munching on a mushroom.
Second, keep a lookout for litter that might blow into your yard. Between Halloween candy wrappers and general trash, fall’s blustery days can bring all sorts of interesting things into your yard. Pick them up before your dog does.
Finally, watch out for any bugs and small creatures. Fall is a popular time of year for slugs, snails, ladybugs, beetles and more. Playful pups might investigate these critters a little too close or even see how they taste! It’s a good idea to make sure that your interested pup observes from a distance instead of up-close.
Fall is a wonderful time of year—especially for lawn care lovers. All those extra chores are worth it when spring comes around and reinvigorates your beautiful landscape. This season, make sure you’re being as kind to your dog as you are to your lawn and keep these tips in mind.