Gardeners want to make sure that their plants get the right amount of nutrients. Several forms of fertilizers are available that are designed to give your lawn adequate amounts of nutrients, but chemical fertilizer companies often recommend that pets be kept away from fertilized lawns until they have dried. Pet owners who want to be especially careful can use dog-friendly alternatives to chemical fertilizers.
Many of the chemicals sprayed on lawns can be harmful to dogs. Dogs often chew on grass and grass that has recently been sprayed with fertilizers can have dangerous levels of nutrients. Dogs can sometimes be protected from chemical fertilizers by keeping them away from the lawn until the fertilizer has dried. However, dogs that ingest unsafe fertilizer will need to be taken to the vet.
Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in order to thrive. Many life forms have these nutrients and release these nutrients into the soil when they decompose. The goal of a gardener is to determine which organic material is very high in these essential nutrients and to break these materials up and add them to the soil so that they can decompose. Three kinds of organic matter that contain the nutrients needed by plants are seaweed, fish and humic acid.
Most dog-friendly fertilizers come from composted materials such as seaweed, fish and humic acid. Seaweed, also known as kelp, is a group of plant species that live in the ocean and often wash up on ocean shores. Fish fertilizer comes from a byproduct of the fish canning industry. The oil is so harmless to dogs that it is actually used as flavoring in dog food. Humic acid is a substance that is produced by the biodegrading of organic matter. Unlike animal manure, which can contain bacteria that can harm dogs, these three fertilizer sources are not dangerous to dogs.
Seaweed increases water retention, aeration and healthy bacteria in soil. Healthy bacteria produces nitrogen for plants and some bacteria also kill harmful bacteria, pathogens and pests such as white grubs. Humic acid has been shown by Ohio State University to increase plant growth when applied near the roots by increasing nutrient availability to the plants.
Dog urine produces fertilizer that can overwhelm grass, since the fertilizer contains an overwhelming amount of nitrogen. Female dogs, large dogs and dogs on a high-protein diet are the most likely to burn the lawn with their urine. Also, lawns that are already fertilized are much more likely to experience lawn burn, according to Dog Friendly Garden. Fortunately, the spots where the dog has urinated can be diluted using water and the dog can dilute his own urine by drinking more water. Some kinds of grass are more resistant to dog urine such as fescue grass and rye grasses. Dogs can also be trained to urinate in less noticeable areas.