A beautiful lush and vibrant lawn is the source of a wonderful sense of pride and accomplishment for most folks today. I mean, who doesn’t like to see beautiful green grass, right? Especially our furry companions!

When the grass comes out, our fur babies love to play, roll and even eat the stuff. Heck, my dogs are out there right now sun bathing in it as we speak.

All our pets can spend hours on end in the backyards of the world just basking in the sun and lying on well fertilized and treated lawns.

Is all this “green grass talk” making you want to go outside and start the lawn maintenance program?

Well you may want to consider the following data from this recent study, soon to be published in the July issue of Science of the Total Environment:


“Dogs are ingesting, inhaling and otherwise being exposed to garden and lawn chemicals that have been associated with bladder cancer.”

These chemicals are either sticking to our pet’s fur or they are being breathed in. The toxicity gets even worse if your pet tries to lick and clean their paws!


Once contaminated, dogs can pass the chemicals on to their owners and to others in the household. The study only looked at dogs, but the researchers suspect that cats and other pets could also be affected.

“Dogs can pick up the chemicals on their paws and their fur,” Deborah Knapp, lead author of Purdue University’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, explains. ‘They can then track the chemicals inside the house, leaving chemicals on the floor or furniture. In addition, if the dog has chemicals on its fur, the pet owner could come in contact with the chemicals when they pet or hold the dog.”

John Reif, a professor emeritus of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, told Discovery News, ‘The paper presents important information since exposure to 2,-4-D, a widely used broad leaf herbicide, has been associated with increased risk of cancer in pet dogs and humans.’” – Discovery News

This means that we, the humans, are unknowingly exposing our pets to cancer and they, our pets, are unknowingly returning the favor as they bring the toxins back into our households.

At this point, some pet parents may say to themselves: “This article doesn’t concern me because I don’t spray or treat my lawn.”


“In a second experiment, the researchers analyzed urine samples of dogs from households that either used herbicides or didn’t. The majority of dogs from homes that used the chemicals were found to have these same herbicides in their urine. Some dogs from untreated homes also had the chemicals in their urine.

Knapp explained that wind could cause the herbicides to travel up to 50 feet away from the application site. Neighbors who use the chemicals might therefore impact other individuals in the area.”

This is everybody’s problem, unfortunately.

This study shows super important effects on human health since it demonstrates widespread exposure to pet dogs.

“The likelihood that children, who share the local environment with their pets, are similarly exposed to these chemicals is high and thus additional studies should be conducted to evaluate this possibility.” – Colorado School of Public Health


In 2012, researchers at the University of Massachusetts and the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine questioned the owners of more than 700 dogs about the use of pesticides. Roughly one-third of the dogs had been diagnosed with canine malignant lymphoma, while the other two-thirds had either benign tumors or were undergoing non-cancer surgeries.

Dogs whose owners reported use of professionally applied lawn pesticides were 70 percent more likely to have lymphoma, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Research in January.

Dogs also were at higher risk of lymphoma if their owners used self-applied insect growth regulators on their yards, which control cockroaches, fleas and other pests.


Here are some tips from Dogs Naturally Magazine:

  • If you’re tempted to coat your lawn with chemical fertilizers to give your grass a boost before guests arrive, don’t. For nontoxic lawn nourishment, broadcast one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch of high-quality compost over your lawn using a shovel. Compost nourishes beneficial soil microbes and doesn’t contain harsh salts the way many chemical fertilizers do, and you could see some improvement in just a few days.
  • Instead of reaching for Roundup or other harmful synthetic pesticides to kill weeds creeping up through sidewalk or driveway cracks, try using BurnOut, an organic weed killer made of food-grade vinegar and clove oil. Just be sure to spray it directly on weeds on a warm, sunny day for the best effect. You can also use BurnOut to quickly and organically kill weeds in the yard; however, it will temporarily leave a brown spot, and you’ll need to reseed the area to shade out new weed growth. (You might want to save that project for after your guests leave.) Smallwood recommends reseeding with Pearl’s Premium grass seed. It thrives without chemicals, and once established, you don’t ever have to water it.
  • It’s also wise to avoid cocoa bean shell mulch in your gardens—it’s potentially toxic to pooches.

For more info visit: Dogs Naturally Magazine

What tips did the researchers of the latest study offer on this subject?

They suggest that if owners still must use herbicides, they should follow manufacturer guidelines, allow gardens and lawns to dry before allowing pets out, wash their dog’s feet each time the dog comes inside, and consider treating the back yard one week before the front (or vice versa) so that pets will have an area of less potential chemical exposure available to them.

Rodney Habib 

“An educated, informed and well-researched community of pet owners can only put more pressure on the pet food industry to be better! When pet owners know better, they will only do better!”