What are Lawn Fertilizer Allergies?
As a pet owner, you may not realize that the products you are using to feed your lawn are actually toxic to dogs and can cause allergy symptoms as well. As a matter of fact, sometimes these fertilizers can be deadly if your dog ingests a substantial amount. Although some fertilizers are safe for your pet to walk on after it dries, this may not take into effect the fact that your dog may decide to snack on the grass instead of walking on it as many dogs do. In addition, some types of fertilizers can transfer to your dog’s footpads and cause irritation, which leads to your dog licking and chewing on them. This is especially likely after rain or in the early morning when the grass is wet. Any reaction to lawn fertilizer exposure may be considered allergy, but it is just as likely to be a toxic reaction to the chemicals in the product. Therefore, it is important that if you intend to use these products you should read the warning labels and consider changing to a natural fertilizer with no toxic chemicals.
Most commercial lawn fertilizers are toxic to dogs. Even if your dog is not technically allergic to them, it is best to make sure your canine companion is not exposed to them. Though most lawn fertilizers state they are safe once they are dry, your dog may still be affected by eating or licking the grass, or their feet and belly. Pets can also breathe in the chemicals from the fertilizer in the basement or shed where you store it so be sure it is kept in an airtight container away from pets and children. The weed and feed type of fertilizers are never safe, even after they dry, and can cause diseases such as bladder cancer, lymphoma, and asthma. Although organic fertilizers can be better, they are not necessarily safe, and can cause inhalant and contact allergic reactions as well as pancreatitis and intestinal issues.
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Symptoms of Lawn Fertilizer Allergies in Dogs
Mild exposure from walking on your lawn after treatment with fertilizer may cause irritation to the lungs, feet, and eyes. If your dog ingests the product by licking and chewing on feet or eating the grass, some of the symptoms you may see are:
- Abdominal pain
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Licking or chewing on feet
- Red, painful foot pads
- Watery eyes and blinking
If your dog eats a substantial amount of fertilizer rather than just accidental ingestion from the lawn, the symptoms can be much more serious. These symptoms can be separated into three sections, which are central (peripheral activity), muscarinic (parasympathetic activity), and nicotinic (neural and neuromuscular activity).
- Extrapyramidal effects (agitation, involuntary movements of the tongue, loss of voluntary movement, uncontrollable repetitive movements)
- Peripheral Neuropathy (impaired digestion, nerve pain and tingling, numbness, sweating)
- Respiratory distress
- Breathing trouble
- Decreased heart rate (bradycardia)
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive salivation
- Frequent urination
- Gastric cramping
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Slow reflexes
- Watery eyes
- Muscle weakness
- Respiratory paralysis
- Twitching muscles
Almost all types of commercial lawn fertilizer have some amount of certain products that can cause an allergic or toxic reaction in your dog:
Causes of Lawn Fertilizer Allergies in Dogs
The most common cause of lawn fertilizer allergies is accidental ingestion from exposure to a treated lawn although there have also been many cases of dogs eating the fertilizer itself. In addition, some breeds tend to be more susceptible to fertilizer allergies.
- Scottish Terriers
- Shetland Sheepdogs
- West Highland White Terriers
- Wirehair Terriers
Diagnosis of Lawn Fertilizer Allergies in Dogs
The first thing your veterinarian will do is stabilize your dog if necessary by providing intravenous (IV) fluids and oxygen. The team will ask you to provide as much information as you can about what you think your dog may have been exposed to, how much, when it happened, and symptoms you have seen. It may be good to bring a sample of the fertilizer or label from the product that you used so the veterinarian can find out what may be causing your dog’s allergy symptoms. Make sure to provide her with your dog’s medical history, any previous illnesses or injuries, and vaccination records.
A physical examination will come next, which includes weight, height, reflexes, body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breath sounds, respirations, blood oxygen level, and overall appearance. Laboratory tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) to determine the cholinesterase activity, urinalysis to check kidney activity, liver enzyme levels to check for liver function, and blood chemistry profile for pancreatitis and glucose levels will be done. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may also be used to check your dog’s heart function. Abdominal x-rays will be done as well to make sure there is no further damage.
Treatment of Lawn Fertilizer Allergies in Dogs
The intravenous (IV) fluids will be continued until the veterinarian is sure that the fertilizer has been flushed from your dog’s system. If the veterinarian suspects organ damage, your dog may need to spend 24-36 hours in the hospital for observation. If it was just an allergic reaction to mild exposure, corticosteroid cream and hypoallergenic shampoo will help get rid of the itching in about a week. Immunotherapy shots are sometimes suggested to desensitize your dog from an allergy, but it is best not to subject your pet to any more exposure to most fertilizers on the market. The veterinarian will probably recommend you stop using the lawn treatment or fence off that area to keep your dog from being exposed.
Recovery of Lawn Fertilizer Allergies in Dogs
You should see improvement in your dog right away if the exposure was mild and just an allergic reaction. As long as you keep your furry friend from being exposed to fertilizer from now on, there should be no lasting complications. If there is any damage to the organs or nervous system, further treatment will be required. The recovery will depend on the amount of lawn fertilizer your dog was exposed to. If you have questions or concerns during the recovery time, give your veterinarian a call right away.
Lawn Fertilizer Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog like to go down face first on the grass when he first goes outside after being in all day. This past season, my dog was diagnosed with both yeast and bacteria on his face. I would treat per the vet, it would clear up and then when he went face first again, it came back. I finally saw the pattern. I need lawn care. Should I go organic?
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We (and our two Bichon mixes) spend our winters in Southwest Florida. The landscaping is beautiful but I am beginning to worry about all it takes to maintain it. One of our dogs (not both) has recently had a bout of diarrhea - very very uncommon for her. After speaking with other neighbors, turns out there is at least a couple dozen dogs in the neighborhood (spread across several square miles) that have been experiencing the same, unusual and otherwise unexplainable, gastrointestinal issues over the course of the past few months. If this were to be caused by landscaping products, what should I be asking our landscape company? I f not the cause of landscaping products, any clue as to what else it could be?
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Lawn fertilizer was applied to our lawn and now she is licking paws/pads of her feet and is drinking a lot of water. Last night she started having diahrea and gas while emlinating. She is prone to diarrhea in the past but have that figured out and had been good for several weeks (no snacking on human food of any kind).
Most probably the symptoms are attributable to the lawn fertilizer; if you haven’t already, wash Emma’s paws with a mild soap and don’t let her back on the lawn until you have read the lawn fertilizer product information (they will have a section on pets). If the vomiting and diarrhoea continues visit your Veterinarian with the packaging of the lawn fertilizer that you used. If you notice tremors, seizures or other neurological symptoms visit a Veterinarian immediately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
No vomiting. Drinking lots of water, licking pads on feet. Already washed her feet each time she goes out and there isn't anywhere else for her to go. Good soaking rain last night and hoping this will soak enough into the lawn we won't have to worry.
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My dogs eyes are swollen shut after going on the lawn after it had been fertilized. He keeps scratching at his eyes. I've wiped his paws and eyes down. I'm wondering if I can give him any benadryl. He's a 60lb dog.
For a dog M’s size, two 25mg tablets would be enough two to three times per day; it is possible that the reaction isn’t an allergy but chemical irritation, flushing the eyes out with lukewarm water would be helpful too. If M seems to be in pain, I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian; take the packaging of the lawn fertilizer with you. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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