Most of us are aware of the negative impact of pesticides on pollinators and beneficial insects. Could the chemicals we use on our lawns and gardens be harmful to our dogs and cats as well? We need to consider how herbicides, pesticides and insecticides affect the animals in our care. Is a lush, green lawn worth the good health and longevity of our pets? No one wants to ask, “Did I do something to make my pet sick?”      

Exposure to home and garden pesticides has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in cats and dogs. Long-term contact with environmental toxins can weaken the immune system and damage the liver and kidneys. Why not eliminate as many toxic chemicals from our lawns and gardens as possible and encourage others to do the same?   

Disulfoton is the active ingredient in a pesticide specifically formulated to treat roses. It is systemically absorbed through the roots, killing anything that feeds on the plant. The problem is, it’s often mixed with blood or bone meal which many dogs find attractive. Equally tempting to dogs are snail and slug baits containing metaldehyde. Accidental ingestion can have tragic results. 

Many of the products that we use to make our lawns more attractive can be poisonous to our pets. Their closeness to the ground makes them more likely to inhale noxious fumes. Our dogs enjoy nothing better than sniffing every blade of grass in the yard before finding the perfect spot to roll around in. Some dogs just like to eat grass. When they come indoors, they lick their paws and groom themselves, ingesting anything that may have been sprayed on the lawn.

Keep in mind that your neighbor’s lawn treatment can drift into your yard. It’s important to bathe and brush your pets regularly.   

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup and other weed killers. This controversial product is the most widely used herbicide in the U.S. There is convincing evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer in animals. Whether or not this is so, why take a chance? Cancer is the leading cause of death in many dog breeds.   

If you use a lawn service or pest control company, ask them about their products and the measures they use to keep your pets safe. Lawn chemicals can vary widely in safety. Get a schedule and make sure your pets aren’t in the yard when they treat.   

Never apply pesticides while your pets are outside. Take their toys and feeding bowls inside as well. Never use pesticides that can be mistaken for food. Make sure treated areas have dried completely before allowing pets back outside. Call the Parks and Recreation Department to find out how your favorite park is treated and avoid taking your pets there for 72 hours post-treatment.     

Cocoa bean shells are a popular mulch. They’re attractive and smell delicious. Dogs who consume enough could develop signs of chocolate poisoning. Use in the landscape with caution. 

Garden responsibly. Consider organic or chemical-free solutions to your lawn and garden issues. Protecting the environment is the best way to protect our pets.      

Rachel and Ivan Minnis are avid gardeners. They live in Leavenworth. For more information, visit The Minnis Rose Garden on Facebook. Contact them at