Caring for your lawn and following proper turf management practices are essential to a healthy lawn, something that benefits you and your family in a multitude of ways: enjoying leisure activities on the thick, cushioned play surface, increasing property values up to 15 percent and, most important, creating a better environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the many benefits of lawns in its pamphlet, “Healthy Lawn, Healthy Environment.” A healthy lawn with thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and adsorbs many types of airborne pollutants, like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air. Lawns create a cooling effect for houses as well. The benefits are practically endless, but maintaining healthy lawns requires more than just mowing and watering. Sometimes pests or diseases appear and can ruin a lawn.

It is possible to treat your lawn and keep your pets and family safe. However, because pets enjoy rolling in, sitting on, lying in, and eating grass you must think safety first. Lawn care products are designed and tested for use in a residential environment. Nevertheless, they must be applied according to their directions and certain precautions should be considered to minimize exposure to animals. For starters, correctly determine what kind of insect or weed you are trying to control, and always use the correct control measure or product. The most accurate way to accomplish these measures is to contact a professional with experience and training. After determining the problem, understanding the effective course of treatment is next. At this point, you may decide to hire a professional to complete the job or do it yourself. Be very aware that lawn care professionals take proper precautions as part of their jobs, and when making lawn care product applications, you should, too.

Using common sense is the key to any safety routine.

The greatest risk of adverse effects to a pet from lawn care products comes from pets consuming a large amount of an improperly diluted or undiluted product, especially from a concentrated product in the original container.

Evaluating Illness
Additionally, before hiring a professional to help maintain your lawn and land-scape, check the company’s credentials and references. To help in your selection, take a look at “Tips for Homeowners” on

Like people, pets can come down with common illnesses that need medical attention or professional advice. If an illness strikes a pet subsequent to the use of lawn care products, many people assume the product was the cause. If your pet becomes ill, taking it to a licensed veterinarian for assessment is the best course of action. Your veterinarian is responsible for objectively evaluating exposures and attempting to determine whether the illness is due to contact with any chemical(s) used or due to a disease process. Sometimes it is difficult for the veterinarian to differentiate chemical effects from disease processes without the proper information. Make sure your veterinarian has all the information about the products used, including the product label.

Remember, the level of risk posed by any chemical depends on its toxicity and the level of exposure. Lawn care professionals use the same products that homeowners use. Additionally, lawn care professionals have greater experience choosing, using, and storing products properly. Improper or inappropriate use of lawn or household chemicals by anyone can increase the level of exposure, which in turn may increase the level of risk posed to your pets or family.

Use common sense and always put safety first. If you follow proper turf management practices, you, your family, and your pets can enjoy a healthy lawn and reap the many rewards it provides. For more information on lawn care products and pets, the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) provides two articles: “Steps Your Veterinarian Should Follow in Evaluating Suspected Pet Illness From Commonly Used Lawn Care Products” and “What to Expect From Your Veterinarian When Investigating a Pet’s Exposure to a Lawn Care Product,” both written by Robert H. Poppenga, Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicologists, DVM, Ph.D.

To request these articles and other helpful information, contact PLANET by e-mailing If you need advice or assistance with proper turf management practices, contact your local county cooperative extension service or a lawn care provider.

Pets and Your Lawn

Common Sense Guide to
Lawn Care and Pet Safety


Used with permission

Pets are one of the family, and their health and safety are an important consideration. “Pets and Your Lawn” gives you common sense advice and safety measures to follow when using lawn care products and services.

dogs lawn grass
cat in grass
lawn and landscape care

Established 1993



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