18 Dangerous Effects of Lawn Chemicals on Wildlife and Pets

A lawn is a short grass-covered area. This area usually found in private gardens, public landscapes, and parks. The lawn requires high maintenance, the maintenance is for watering, controlling grasses growth, and killing weeds or pest. Lawn chemicals are including pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer.

Unlike chemicals that used in agricultural, people don’t think that chemical used in the lawn will affect them since they don’t consume the lawn plants. Of course, that is wrong, the dry chemical can be evaporated and get through the body from respiration. The other way is by seeping through the soil and eventually into groundwater and end up in your drinking water.

If a guarded human can be so vulnerable to lawn chemicals, imagine what these harmful chemicals can do to your innocent pets. Remember the time your dog’s digging a corner of your lawn with his claws? Or the time you throw a ball to the grass and your dog fetch it? Or when your cat sniffing the ground when exploring? Lawn chemicals effects can be more dangerous and lethal to smaller pets. Beside direct poisoning, your pets can be affected by secondary poisoning by eating chemical-exposed rodents, mollusks or insects.

Effects of Lawn Chemicals on Wildlife and Pets

Lawn chemicals can also affect important animals in the ecosystem such as worms. Worms break down organic matter and plow the soil that allows air and water get to the plant’s root. Fertile soil can be measured by the presence of the earthworms. Chemical-contaminated soil can kill the earthworms and decrease the soil fertility. Another animal like a wild bird can get the secondary contamination by preying down the contaminated insects and worms. Smaller animal like bees and butterflies can get the direct hit from the pesticide.

Here are the effects of lawn chemicals on wildlife and pets :

  1. Irritant
    A freshly sprayed pesticides have a high risk for pet irritation. Pets like dog or cat have a habit of sniffing down, the chemical can contact their nose and paws causing dermatitis, itchiness, and rashes. If it later enters the respiration system, it will irritate upper respiratary organ by showing symptoms like sneezing. The ingested chemical will cause weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. Irritation is an acute response of pet’s body to the chemicals and can be worse if the exposure dose is higher. Avoid walking your pet to a wet chemical-sprayed lawn.
  2. Cancer
    Studies showed an association between lawn chemicals and cancer in dogs. The researchers identified dogs with canine malignant lymphoma (CML) and benign tumors. Later they found most of the owners use insecticides on their lawn. The etiology of dog cancer usually invisible or hard to find since many factors can trigger it. Cancer itself is a late sign of continuous chemicals exposure. Another study showed the risk of bladder cancer is also increasing from phenoxy herbicide exposure.
  3. Endocrine disruption
    Organophosphates and organochloride pesticide can affect multiarea to pet’s body. A prolonged exposure that continued over and over without proper detoxification can disrupt pet’s hormonal function. This is usually shown with some signs such as depression, low-appetite, and fatigue.
  4. Reproductive effects
    by disrupting hormones, pesticide will also disrupt animal reproductivity. It started with sperm and eggs alteration, decreasing libido, and disturb fertilization and implantation. Pregnant pets that contacted with chemicals can lead to miscarriage or deformed birth.
  5. Respiration problem
    Chemical inspiration can cause several respiration problems to dog such as irregular breath, uneasiness, weakness. The effects can be increased if it was contacted to small breed dogs, cats, birds, rabbits or other smaller creature. The chemical can even lead acute organ failure to them. Put attention to your pets if they show flu-like symptom after you treat your lawn. 
  6. Neurotoxicity
    Some herbicide like phenoxy or benzoic acid and organochlorine pesticide affect the central nervous system of your pets. The signs are shown as involuntary twitching, tremors, loss of sensation, weakness, fatigue, aching muscles to seizures. Long-term exposure can do irreversible permanent neurological damage.
  7. Kidney/liver damage
    These organs act as the filter in pet body, Liver that work for toxic, drugs and chemical metabolism is vulnerable to chemical contaminant. Repeated exposure and poisoning will burden the organs work. The damage will vary based on the chemicals, dose and pet breed. Some dog breeds such as Dalmatians, Dobermans, and Samoyeds are vulnerable to certain chemicals and drugs. Kittens, puppies and young pets are more susceptible to kidney and liver damage due to their immature metabolism and excretory functions.

Effects of Lawn Chemicals on Wildlife

Beside affecting pets, lawn chemicals can also do harm to wildlife animal such as :

  1. Bees; Neonicotinoids pesticide such as imidacloprid and clothianidin can lead to colony collapse disorder (CCD) on bee populations. They usually don’t kill the bees but the contaminated bees will unable to navigate their way back to their hive and later lead to colony collapse
  2. Frogs; Atrazine pesticide will run off by rain and carried to near waterbody where frogs live. This pesticide is hardly broken down inside the water. Frogs that lived in atrazine-contaminated water will likely develop sexual abnormalities.
  3. Birds; Birds are easily exposed by hunting down neonicotinoid-contaminated insects. Studies found that bird that exposed to this agent will show decreasing breeding success, physical malformation, and death.
  4. Bats; similar to birds, bats are more likely to get secondary contact with chemicals. Fenoxycarb has been studied affect bat’s reproduction rate. 

Tips to Handle the Harmful Effects of Lawn Chemicals

Here are some tips to minimize the bad impact of lawn chemical to animals :

  1. avoid using granulated pesticide or fertilizer because animals can be mistaken them for seeds or snacks
  2. use green alternative by choosing low maintenance grasses like clover and organic fertilizer.
  3. remove any toys, food or water from the area before applying the pesticide.
  4. keep pets out from freshly applied pesticide area until the pesticide dries out.
  5. clean and keep the pesticide tools away, sealed the container tightly to avoid accidental ingestion.
  6. read and follow the instruction, label, and caution from the pesticide carefully.
  7. if really can avoid using pesticide for your lawn, consider periodic detoxification for your pet. The pesticide trace usually can be found in pet’s urine

Lawn chemicals can be easily exposed to wide-ranged people. Usually, the chemicals exposed by direct contact since lawn is commonly used as recreational or sports space. Lawn chemicals that used in gardens can be stepped, brought inside the house and affecting baby inside. People tend to overuse lawn chemicals by thinking more dose will be more effective.