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Pet Friendly Lawn Fertilizer

By Kimberly Sharpe ; Updated September 21, 2017
Dogs enjoy spending time on a lush lawn that poses no chemical dangers.
dog on grass image by Lars Christensen from Fotolia.com

Most gardeners desire a lush, green lawn. To obtain this, the lawn must receive adequate nutrients through fertilization using either organic or chemical fertilizers. A regularly fertilized lawn also offers disease and pest resistance. Pet owners need to find a fertilizing system that will not harm animals if they should inadvertently come into contact with the fertilizer or accidentally ingest small quantities of it.


Numerous lawn fertilizers contain high concentrations of iron, which can pose a toxic danger to a pet if it is ingested. Nitrogen fertilizers can burn the delicate paws and skin of animals. The nitrogen granules often become trapped within the folds of the paw pads, which produces painful sores as the granules dissolve. Lawns are often treated with both herbicides and pesticides to control unwanted weed growth and pests but most are toxic if swallowed. Many dogs lick their paws after walking in grass and can accidentally swallow small amounts of the substances, which can render them exceptionally ill.


Always read and follow the directions on chemical lawn fertilizers to avoid dangers to pets. Most fertilizers require prompt watering or application during a rain storm. When the fertilizer is adequately watered into the lawn it poses no danger to the pet unless it runs off into a water source such as pond, bird bath or stream where it can be swalled. Once the lawn is fertilized and watered, the pet can be allowed onto the grass safely.


Prepare the lawn for fertilizing by removing all dog dishes, water bowls and pet toys from the areas so they do not become coated in the chemical fertilizers. The dust from chemical fertilizers can travel a great distance during a windy day and land on items that the dog may come into contact with. Post signs if the lawn is not fenced in warning pet owners to not allow their dogs to come into contact with the grass during fertilization.

Organic Fertilizer

Consider using only an organic fertilizer. Mulched grass clippings make an excellent, nontoxic fertilizer alternative that is safe for pets. Organic lawn fertilizers pose little or no danger to pets and are widely available at garden nurseries, home improvement stores online or at natural health food stores . Most are made from seaweed, kelp, manure, bone meal or dried blood. Natural compost from a garden compost pile can also be beneficial to a lawn, as can aged manure, which can often be purchased from dairy farms, chicken farms or horse ranches.

Homemade Fertilizers

Nontoxic, pet-safe, lawn-care fertilizers can often be found in the gardener's own kitchen cabinets or refrigerator. Beer provides beneficial soil microbes with much-needed carbohydrates. Soda also works similar to beer when applied to lawns. Applications of cottonseed meal and soybean meal help to maintain a green lawn. Neem oil helps add nutrients and is a natural pest repellent. Vinegar applied to lawn weeds works as a successful lawn herbicide with no toxic effects. Applications of Epsom salts to a lawn adds magnesium and sulfate, which help to combat yellowing and can successfully produce a lush green grass appearance.

Health Risks

Using chemical lawn fertilizers may not show toxic results in pets immediately, but over time they may cause cancer or other health issues. Pets exposed to chemically treated lawns show a rise in lymphomas. An association between cancers, immuno-response deficiencies, birth defects and neurological diseases that stem from chemical exposure to lawn care substances has been shown, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.


About the Author


Based in Oregon, Kimberly Sharpe has been a writer since 2006. She writes for numerous online publications. Her writing has a strong focus on home improvement, gardening, parenting, pets and travel. She has traveled extensively to such places as India and Sri Lanka to widen and enhance her writing and knowledge base.