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How Long After Fertilizing Can Your Dog Go On The Lawn?

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Lawn fertilizer is great for your grass. Maybe not so much for your dog. Dogs are built closer to the grass, stick their noses into it, and roll on it.

So, How Long After Fertilizing Can Your Dog Go On The Lawn?

The most common recommendation is for pets to have minimal contact with grass after fertilizing the lawn. For 24-72 hours. Some pet-friendly fertilizers require less time. Fertilizers with insecticides and/or herbicides take longer to be absorbed into the soil.

It is a bit of a balancing act between fertilizing your lawn to keep it healthy and making sure dogs and other pets are kept safe. 

Here are some suggestions to help you get a green lawn and keep your pets safe.

Types of Fertilizer Applications

Fertilizer comes as a liquid or solid. One is not safer or “better” than the other. Organic, pet safe, with or without herbicide and/or pesticide is available in either type.

Liquid Fertilizer

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Liquid fertilizer is absorbed quickly by the soil. It gets into plants fast. Most manufacturers recommend that it be watered in to increase solubility. Once the grass is dry, you can let your pets back onto the lawn.

The process should take less than the minimum 24 hours recommended but as long as you are following the manufacturer’s directions, your lawn should be safe for dogs.

Dry Fertilizer

Granular fertilizer is easy to apply and easy to see. It needs decent watering to dissolve the pellets into the soil.  It should be safe for your dog to be allowed back on the fertilized lawn 24 hours after you can’t see any more pellets. Twenty-four hours ensures that the fertilizer has been absorbed and the lawn is safe.

Note: The pellets need to be gone because they can attach themselves to dog fur–then be licked off and swallowed.

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Harmful Fertilizers to Dogs

The stronger the fertilizer, the more chance of being dangerous to pets. Slow-release products are also dangerous because they tend to be around longer and when swallowed, stomach acid releases everything at once.

  • Top Dressing Fertilizers. Manure, compost, and bone meal should never be left in piles on the lawn or garden. Not only will the dumb mutt go roll in it, he/she/it may eat a pile of it–possibly causing stomach problems.
  • Herbicides. Fertilizers with herbicides can cause your dog to vomit. It also can cause chemical skin burns.
  • Pesticides. Pesticides can cause chemical toxicity. They can poison dogs on contact. Some breeds of dogs are susceptible to a wider range of pesticides. If you are concerned, check with a veterinarian. Better yet, just don’t use them.

Note: Avoid fertilizers containing permethrin pesticides. It can stay on the grass for one to three weeks. It makes dogs sick and can kill cats. For more information, please see National Pesticide Information Center.

Safe Fertilizers for Dogs

Less potent and/or natural fertilizers will be the safest for dogs and other pets. You will probably have to apply them more often, but dogs only have to stay off the lawn for 20 – 30 minutes. Just long enough for the grass to dry off some.

  • Compost or Manure Tea. One of the best natural fertilizers. Apply weekly for best results. 
  • Lime. Lime is generally safe for dogs, but it should be watered in. Just in case your pet licks anything and develops a taste for lime.
  • Bonemeal. Made from ground bones. Adds calcium and trace minerals. Apply dry–then water in.

The following YouTube video shows how to make compost/manure tea to use on plants, gardens, and lawns.

Fertilizer and Dogs – General Safety Tips

Dogs have more exposure to fertilizer because they are closer to the grass. They also roll in it and lick themselves. Increasing the chance of getting something on their skin or ingesting it. Here are a few more things to keep in mind.

  • Pesticides can stay on grass blades for weeks. This is a problem if your dog is a grass eater.
  • Herbicides go on wet but dry fairly quickly. You should water it down and let it dry before letting the dogs out.
  • Use extra care when applying products containing pesticides and herbicides–not only for the dog’s health but for yours. Wear safety equipment like an N95 mask, gloves, rubber boots, and maybe even a hazmat-type coverall if you have asthma or are sensitive to chemicals.
  • Do not leave bags of fertilizer sitting around for pets to claw open and chew on. Also, dispose of liquid fertilizer containers before they become chew toys.
  • Pellet fertilizer spreaders have been known to leave little piles of pellets lying around that will not all dissolve with watering. Check the lawn and pick them up or spread them around.
  • Always take time to read the fertilizer package or container. Besides application directions, it should provide safety information–for you and the dog.

What if the Dog Gets Out?

Just because you plan to keep the dog inside after your fertilizer application does not mean it agrees. If it gets out on the recently fertilized grass, here are a few precautions.

  • Wash their paws. Wash any other parts that came in contact with the grass. A full bath is not out of the question.
  • Get them to drink as much water as possible. Apparently, a little bit of sugar will make them drink more. Although I have found that adding a little gravy or wiener juice works best.
  • If you still have it, check the container or bag for recommendations to counter swallowing the fertilizer.
  • Call a veterinarian or animal hospital if you feel there are symptoms you don’t understand. Have the container handy so you can provide the best information.

Call a Lawn Care Professional

If you can’t, or don’t want to do your own fertilizing, hire a lawn care company. Not only will they take good care of your lawn they will do it while keeping your dog safe.