Fido Will Thank You for These Pet-Friendly Lawn Care Tips

Lawn care with pets can be very tricky. Unfortunately, your favorite furry friend is not your lush green lawn's favorite friend. 

While dogs love spending time out on the lawn, their favorite activities (ahem, doing their business) can sometimes wreak havoc in a space you've worked so hard to keep pristine. 

You want to keep your lawn the envy of the neighborhood, but more importantly, you want to keep your dog safe from any harmful chemicals.

Is it possible to have both? Yes! Read on to find out the top tips for keeping your lawn looking brand spankin' new and your pooch feeling happy and healthy. 

Tip #1: Lawn Care With Pets Starts With the Right Grass

Your pet is probably your lawn's ultimate test, so you gotta pick a turf that is strong enough to stand up to it. Let's take a look at the few top choices:

Turf Type Tall Fescue Grass: This drought resistant, tough grass is great at handling dog urine as well as canine foot traffic. It's also tough against poor soils, salty soils, and a wide range of temperatures. 

The only downside is that it sometimes grows in clumps, so you may need to add other types of grasses to it. 

Perennial Rye Grass: This can be your go-to grass for those filler spots missed by your fescue grass- just make sure you are getting it in the perennial form. Quick to grow, this grass makes an excellent recovery from urine damage and paw and claw marks. 

Kentucky Bluegrass: While this grass thrives in cooler climates, it can still help your lawn recover from high foot traffic and urine spots. 

Choosing a combination of these grasses is probably your best option when it comes to lawn care with pets. 

Also, don't be surprised if your dog mistakes your newly growing grass for food! Eating grass is normal and actually quite common, just make sure they don't go munchin' right after spraying something. 

Tip #2: Tackle Those Pesky Urine Spots 

Sometimes, you need more than just the right grass to tackle those pesky urine spots that are sticking out at you like a pimple on the middle of your forehead. 

These brown spots are caused by salt in your dog's urine. In order to combat them, you need to mow high and flush the affected area with water as soon as possible.  

If your pet really did a number on a certain area, and the damage looks too far gone, you're going to have to reseed the spot or patch it with some sod. When shopping for a dog spot repairer, look for something that has a salt-neutralizing ingredient. Anything without this ingredient will pretty much render useless. 

It is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before purchasing as well, as some of these products are capable of changing the ph levels in your dog, leading to bladder stones or urine crystals. 

Tip #3: Be Cautious When It Comes to Pesticides

There is a lot of debate out there surrounding the effects of pesticides on dogs.

Some people will claim pesticides cause little harm to animals, and that dogs are already exposed to pesticides inside the household, so avoiding exposure in the outdoors is futile.

A study conducted in 2013 lends evidence to this claim. The study tested dogs from 25 different households. After exposing the dogs to chemically treated lawn, chemicals were detected in 19 out of the 25.

However, 14 out of these 25 already had chemicals in their urine prior to exposure.  

Regardless of these findings, you should always do your research before applying any pesticides and read all warning labels, as pesticide poisoning can happen. Be especially wary about which insecticide you choose, and if you have roses, avoid using disofulton to treat them, as this can cause diarrhea and seizures.

This booklet by Oregan State University details the common risks associated with particular pesticides and lawn care with pets as well as tips on how to reduce these risks if you choose to use them. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should always avoid letting your dog run, walk, or play in or near areas that have recently been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. This is the best way to keep them safe from pesticide poisoning.  

However, even with careful consideration and planning, accidents do happen. If you notice any of the following symptoms, your dog may be experiencing pesticide poisoning, in which case you should take them to see their veterinarian immediately:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hypersalivation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lack of coordination (i.e., trouble walking)
  • Respiratory failure (e.g., trouble breathing)

Tip #4: Keep Up With Seasonal Care

Keeping on top of your lawn maintenance is perhaps the best way to ensure both dog and grass get along. 4 times per year is ideal for most grasses, and don't think you're doing your lawn any favors by over-applying.

When it comes to lawn care with pets, over-applying can be just as disastrous as neglecting. 

5. Alternative Play Areas for Your Pooch 

If the relationship between your dog and your lawn is especially messy, another option to consider is steering your dog away from your lawn as much as possible. 

This may be easier than you think, alternative solutions for lawn care with pets include:

  • A pheromone post or "pee post" that attracts dogs and encourages them to urinate in a specific area
  • A designated area filled with gravel or mulch
  • Installing a motion activated sprinkler 
  • Fencing your yard
  • Taking a trip to the local dog park
  • Going for routine walks, especially in the morning, when your dog's urine is most concentrated

General Practices to Keep in Mind 

Pet protection has come a long way over the years, and most companies are becoming more diligent with warning labels in regards to dogs and other pets.

However, it is never a bad idea to check with your veterinarian if you are unsure about the effects a product may have on your dog. Read all label instructions and ingredients thoroughly, and be sure to wait as directed before allowing your pet back onto the lawn.

Be sure to store all lawn care properly, safely away from all pets and children. And if something spills, clean it up immediately. 

Lawn care with pets takes a little extra work but it is possible to have a pretty lawn and a happy pooch. However, if your beloved pet is a little rascal and taking care of him/her occupies enough of your time, contact us to help you out with the other half of things!


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