Lawn-Care Tips: How to Keep Your Yard Safe for Pets This Fall

Fall is officially here, if the prevalence of pumpkin-spiced everything is any indication. And for those who take pride in cultivating a lovely lawn right up until the first snow, that means it's time to do a bit of autumnal yard work. 

Of course, when pets enter the picture, those standard fall lawn-care tips you find in all the gardening magazines aren't quite sufficient because some of the very items that help make a yard look incredible can also pose real dangers to our four-legged friends. But don't worry! We have lawn-care tips that'll help you make your yard gorgeous and pet-safe this fall.

How to Create a Pet-Safe Fall Yard

Leaf blower


Be careful with equipment like leaf blowers.

You might think that using a leaf blower to send leaves flying at or past your pup is a fun way to play, but you need to resist the urge. Some types of lawn equipment, like leaf blowers, are able to blow leaves (and anything else in the way, like rocks or sticks) at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. If the wrong debris is caught up in that and hits your dog, she could be injured.

Bag of fertilizer


Watch out for fertilizers and herbicides.

When shopping for chemicals to use on your lawn, always look for options that are marked as pet-safe. Dogs often love to eat fertilizers (especially the organic ones), and while some fertilizers might be fairly low on the toxicity scale, many still pose a danger — enough of a danger that you should call your vet if you suspect your dog has eaten some.

Herbicides can also be problematic if a pet ingests them. When applying herbicides to your yard, follow the directions for the correct dilution of liquid products and follow the recommended application rate for granular products before watering them in and allowing the product to dry. Any spilled granular materials should be swept up, and in the case of liquids, puddles should be diluted with water. Don't allow pets out on the lawn until the area is clean and dry, and if you think your dog has ingested any, contact your vet.



Use caution with insecticides and pesticides, including snail bait.

Just as with herbicides, it's imperative that you read the label, follow directions closely and keep pets off the lawn until the area is dry when using insecticides or pesticides. Some of these chemicals can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and worse if ingested. Snail bait generally comes in two forms: the iron-based type, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, possibly tinged with blood, and metaldehyde, which can cause vomiting, muscle tremors, seizures and death. Metaldehyde is particularly dangerous for dogs because they tend to find it tasty.

If you suspect your pet has gotten into any insecticides, pesticides or snail bait, contact your vet right away.

Wheelbarrow of mulch


Avoid mulch mishaps.

Mulch is one of the most common products used in lawn care, both in the spring and the fall, and it's also a product many dogs find enticing. While you should never let your dog chow down on any mulch, it's vitally important that you don't allow him access to cocoa mulch. This product smells sweet (which attracts dogs) and contains caffeine and theobromine, which are the exact things that make chocolate dangerous for dogs. Opt for other types of mulch when at all possible, and if you suspect your pet has ingested cocoa mulch, call your vet immediately. Pets who have eaten cocoa mulch might display signs like vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and neurologic symptoms.

Poisonous mushroom


Don't overlook dangerous mushrooms and plants.

Around mulch or other moist areas of your yard, keep an eye out for mushrooms that like to grow in such spots — some wild mushrooms can be toxic to dogs and cats. But it's not just mushrooms you should be mindful about, as a number of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as other plants, pose dangers to curious or hungry pets. You can find more details in this list of common household poisons, and it's also a good idea to study up on the ASPCA's comprehensive database of plants, which shows which ones are — and are not — toxic to pets.

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