Spring is nearly here and during this time of year (and throughout the summer) many of us are planting and cultivating gardens, flower beds, maintaining our lawns or re-potting indoor plants. According to PetPoisonControl.com fertilizer in and of itself is not very toxic to dogs but the addition of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and sometimes heavy metals can increase the toxicity of these products for our pets. This same website also notes that there is "little concern of toxicity once the applied fertilizer has dried. However ingestion of treated grass, crops or plants may cause gastrointestinal distress to animals."
Many of your dogs and cats may enjoy eating a little grass from time to time. There is minor risk of serious health problems with this habit but if a fertilizer is eaten directly from the bag then there is more cause for concern.
When using or applying fertilizers, keep your pets inside until the product has dried (if sprayed) or until it rains (if in pellet form). Keep bags of fertilizer securely tied and out of reach and remind yourself that a small amount may cause GI distress but it's not likely to do permanent damage.
Like most toxins, the amount ingested and the size of the animal are factors in how serious the poisoning is. Click on the PetPoisonControl.com link above for a handy chart to determine how much toxin a particular size dog can ingest before it is damaging.
If you think your dog or cat has ingested fertilizer, these are the signs you should look out for: (information at petpoisonhelpline.com)
- Vomiting (acute or delayed onset)
- Abnormal posture due to abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- “Muddy” colored gums
If you are ever in doubt as to the quantity ingested or if you notice symptoms, please feel free to bring your pet into the Animal Hospital as it's always better to be safe. Otherwise enjoy this warmer weather and the fresh air!