Having a weed-free yard is a summertime goal for many homeowners. Weeds can mar up an otherwise pristine patch of grass. Plus, they can take hold of the plants you want, depriving them of the water and valuable nutrients they need to grow.
The go-to method for removing weeds is using a weed killer. These products, also known as herbicides, target pest plants while leaving your healthy grass intact.
While effective, traditional weed killers have one major problem. They turn your yard into a bed of chemicals! If you have a dog,
That means exposing them to potentially dangerous toxins. The dangers of herbicides are no secret. Long-term studies have painted a dire picture of these products.
Fortunately, healthier alternatives are starting to become the norm. The best pet-friendly weed killers can take care of pesky weeds in a more environmentally safe way.
They don't use harsh chemicals that could cause life-altering health problems. Instead, they stick with all-natural and safe ingredients that won't hurt your canine companion.
Check out some of our top picks for the best pet-friendly weed killers on the market below.
Top 5 Best Pet-Friendly Weed Killers
1. Dr. Earth Final Stop Weed & Grass Killer, 24-oz bottle
This herbicide from Dr. Earth is all-natural. It's OMRI-listed for peace of mind, which means that it's cleared for organic use. The spray contains no harsh chemicals or dangerous additives. Everything is safe for both humans and pets!
The blend contains oils and natural acids. The ingredients list is surprisingly small, which is a good thing! You can easily identify everything on it. The spray has citric acid, clove, sesame, cinnamon, and thyme oils.
As a whole, the herbicide is non-selective. It will attack most unwanted vegetation without any issues. It's particularly useful on broadleaf weeds, crabgrass, and foxtail.
2. Green Gobbler Vinegar Natural and Organic Weed & Grass Killer
Here's another OMRI-listed product that's certified for organic use. It doesn't contain any of the harsh stuff like glyphosate or synthetic chemicals. Instead, it uses natural acids.
This product contains about 20 percent acetic acid. It has similar effects as kitchen vinegar. However, this formula is about four times more potent. As a result, it can kill a wide variety of pest plants in less than 24 hours!
The Green Gobbler herbicide works on many different weeds. Use it on pavers, fence lines, decks, and mulch beds. It can kill crabgrass, dandelion, clover, and more.
3. Espoma Natural Weed Preventer Prevents Dandelions, Crabgrass, & Other Weeds
This weed killer from Espoma is unique yet practical. It's 100 percent corn gluten meal. The product comes in powder form, allowing you to spread it throughout your yard.
Corn gluten is an effective pre-emergent herbicide ingredient. Timing is everything with this product. You must apply it in the early Spring and early Fall before weed seeds germinate. The gluten prevents the weed from establishing roots, effectively killing it before it even has a chance to emerge from the soil.
The Espoma herbicide is all-natural and provides months of weed-free beauty without burning or staining.
4. Natural Armor Weed and Grass Killer Formula. Contains No Glyphosate
From Natural Armor is this heavy-duty herbicide that kills over 250 different species of weeds. It's surprisingly effective, decimating pesky plants in only a few hours. Not long after application, it makes those weeds turned into a shriveled-up mess!
The magic behind the weed killer is the active ingredients. It contains clove oil, citric acid, and sodium chloride. The formula works to immediately damage cell walls and deprive plants of their ability to retain water. As a result, weeds lose hydration and die off in a matter of hours, not days.
5. Bonide Burnout Concentrate, Fast Acting Weed and Grass Killer
The Bonide BurnOut weed killer is a fantastic alternative to chemical-based products. The stars of the show here are citric acid and clove oil. Together, the ingredients cause a damaging cocktail that eliminated broadleaf plants and grasses. A non-selective formula, the weed killer will take care of most pest plants without any issues.
The best part is that the formula is safe. It's free of synthetic chemicals, favoring all-natural constituents instead.
This product comes in concentrated form. To create an effective solution, all you need to do is create a 1:3 mix. The concentrate can last several growing seasons.
How Are Weed Killers Dangerous?
Dogs can't resist a good romp in the grass. They make direct contact with grass every single time they go outside. If your yard is doused in weed killer, your canine companion could experience a host of physical problems.
Direct skin contact is a significant issue. Your pup could absorb the chemicals in the grass through the paw pads.
Because dogs like to investigate through their sense of smell, they may even inadvertently inhale the chemicals! Every roll, sniff, and step presents a health hazard when traditional chemical-based weed killers are thrown into the mix.
The worst part of it all? The potential health risks aren't always apparent. In most cases, the health issues come later after continual exposure.
There's no way to know if weed killers are wreaking havoc on your dog's body until it's too late.
Related: Why Dogs Eat Grass Frantically
Potential Health Ramifications
Want to know how dangerous traditional week killers are?
According to studies conducted by the University of Maryland, weed killer chemicals are detectable in a dog's urine! If chemicals appear in the urine, it means that the dog absorbed them and attempted to process them through the kidney.
Clearly, this is not good for long-term health.To make matters worse, those studies showed that the chemicals appear for up to three days after the weed killers were applied!
Most assume that chemicals are absorbed into the soil after only a few hours. The University of Maryland studies show that's not the case. Dogs can still experience ill-effects after application.
The health issues a dog can experience vary quite a bit based on the chemical and the amount they come into contact with.
The most immediate effect is vomiting and diarrhea. The chemicals interact negatively with the stomach, resulting in massive pain and gastrointestinal troubles.
Your canine may also suffer from symptoms of poisoning. They could go into shock, start shivering, or have difficulty breathing.
In the long-term, kidney failure is in the cards. The constant attempts of ridding the body of chemicals will take their toll, leading to eventual organ failure and death.
Related: Dog Dry Heaving? Try One of These 5 (Home) Remedies
The Biggest Offenders
When it comes to what kinds of ingredients are in weed killers, the list is vast! However, there are three that scientists believe have the worst effects. These include Glyphosate, 2,4-D, and Sethoxydim.
Glyphosate is one of the most popular active ingredients. It's non-selective, so it kills everything! Some plants are resistant to its effects, but you will most often see this product being used around concrete environments.
2,4-D, also known as Trimec, uses hormones to control weed growth. This is the type that likes to cause immediate effects in dogs. When inhaled or ingested, canines can suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and other unpleasant issues.
Sethoxydim usually targets grasses. While not as toxic as the other two herbicides, it still causes similar symptoms to poisoning.
How Do Pet-Friendly Weed Killers Work?
Pet-Friendly weed killers are still capable of killing plants. But, they go about the job very differently.
These products utilize safe, all-natural ingredients. Many are organic by nature, eliminating the inherent danger that chemicals present. Your dog still shouldn't consume large volumes of the stuff. But, your pup shouldn't experience any issues if they inhale, ingest, or roll around in it.
Most rely on drying or acidic agents. For example, salt, vinegar, essential oils, and citric acids are quite popular. Those ingredients can remove the waxy plant cuticle of the weed
while damaging cell walls. This eliminates the plant's ability to take in nutrients, depriving it of its energy and drying it out.
How to Use Pet-Friendly Weed Killers
Even with pet-safe herbicides, you need to exercise caution and apply the product safely.
The first thing you should do is read the instructions throughout. Concentrated products may require dilution. You should also pay attention to the characteristics of the product.
For example, some are selective, which means that they target a specific kind of plant. Others are non-selective and will kill everything like glyphosate! To successfully manage a weed problem, you need to understand what types of weeds you're dealing with.
Pre-emergent or Post-emergent?
Another thing to check is how the products attack the plant. Is it pre-emergent or post-emergent? Pre-emergent products treat weeds before they appear. They can seep into the soil to stop the germination process in its tracks.
Meanwhile, post-emergent weed killers deprive existing plants of nutrients, as we discussed earlier.
Once you familiarize yourself with the product, clear your yard. It's best to keep your dog out of the yard for at least 24 hours. Take them to a local dog park or go on a stroll around the block for exercise.
Avoid applying the product on rainy or windy days. You want your applications to matter, so pick a day with good weather. Apply the weed killer according to the instructions, and you should be able to tackle your weed problem without the use of harsh chemicals!
You don't have to choose between a weed-free yard and a safe yard. With one of these pet-friendly weed killers, you can have both!
These products use Mother Nature's own herbicides to eradicate invasive plants without the use of harsh chemicals. Your pooch can run and play without the risk of long-term health complications.