Is weed killer safe for your pets?

Is Weed Killer Safe for Pets? (Key Considerations)

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I am constantly concerned about the various household products in and around my home and how they could impact my pets. It does seem like the prevailing wisdom on which products are and aren’t safe changes over time, so it’s sometimes tough to know exactly how to keep your pet as safe as you possibly can when it comes to the products and chemicals they’re exposed to.

This post is dedicated to helping you navigate how to think about one of the most commonly used and commonly confusing among these products.

In this post we’ll answer the question:

Is weed killer safe for pets?

We asked our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg to offer some general tips for what to do when your pet gets into something they shouldn’t (or that you’re not sure about), and will give you all the information you need about weed killer and your pets.

Is Weed Killer Safe for Pets?

  The short answer is no. Most weed killers aren’t safe for pets as they contain glyphosate and carbon tetrachloride, which are toxic to pets. 

Weed killers make it easy to take control of your landscaping by eliminating unwanted plants, but the chemicals can prove challenging to handle when you have animals that go outside. 

In this article, we’ll learn if weed killer is safe for pets, if the solutions harm your flowers, and how you can make weed killer yourself.

Weed killers that are safe for pets typically include vinegar, dish soap, or salt, and they leave out the harsh chemicals that can harm your animals or wildlife.

What Chemicals are In Most Commercial Weed Killers?

Commercial weed killers are typically made with one or more active ingredients, such as glyphosate or 2,4-D. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Roundup and many other popular brands. It works by inhibiting an enzyme needed for plant growth. 2,4-D is another common herbicide that is often used in combination with glyphosate. It works by disruptin auxin, a hormone that helps plants grow. Other common active ingredients include dicamba and triclopyr.

In addition to the active ingredients, commercial weed killers also contain a number of other chemicals known as inert ingredients. These ingredients help to stabilize the product and make it more effective. However, they can also be toxic to humans and animals. Inert ingredients include things like solvents, surfactants, and emulsifiers. Some of the most common inert ingredients include petroleum distillates, xylene, and ethylbenzene.

When using any weed killer, it is important to read the label carefully and follow the directions. This will help to ensure your safety and the effectiveness of the product.

Can Pets Eat Weed Killer?

No, pets cannot eat commercial weed killers. It doesn’t matter if the weed killer is a liquid spray or rounded pellets – they’re both highly toxic to animals and people.

Pet-safe weed killers comprised of vinegar or salt aren’t dangerous for your pets, but they are repulsive in taste and smell and can keep them out of your garden. If you use a weed killer with dish soap, check to ensure the dish soap is non-toxic. Dawn is a great pet-friendly option.

Is Weed Killer Safe for Dog’s Skin?

Weed killer is not safe for pets’ skin. Traditional weed killers can burn the animal’s skin and cause rashes, irritation, and fur loss. These dangers are why you should keep your pets off chemically treated lawns for at least 48 hours.

What Are the Risks for a Pet That Eats or Gets Weed Killer on Their Skin?

When pets ingest weed killers, a few different things can occur. If they lick or eat grass that’s been chemically treated, the animal may experience diarrhea and vomiting within the following 48 hours. 

If your pet ingested a large dose of weed killer, contact the animal poison hotline and your veterinarian immediately, as the chemicals can lead to organ failure, seizures, and death.

When weed killer gets on your pet’s skin, it causes rashes and irritation, which lead to blisters.

A Weed Killer Safe for Pets and Grass

No weed killers are safe for pets and grass because vinegar-based weed killers are “non-selective,” meaning they kill anything they’re sprayed on.

A Weed Killer Safe for Pets and Flowers

There aren’t any weed killers that are safe for pets and flowers because pet-safe weed killers are non-selective.

A Homemade Weed Killer Safe for Pets

What you’ll need:

  • 1 gallon of white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dish soap or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup salt

The vinegar and salt kill the weeds, while the oils help the solution stick to the soil. You’ll mix the ingredients while shaking well. Then, transfer the solution into a spray bottle and clearly label it. You can store it in a dark, cool area like a shed or a garage.

Here is a good video overview from a veterinarian on how to think about the chemicals in weed killer and your pets:

Tips from Our Vets

It is normal to be concerned whenever your dog or cat gets into something they should not have. Dogs particularly tend to eat things with little to no regard for edibility. Because so many things can be toxic to pets, even some that are perfectly safe for humans, it can be hard to know what to do. Here are three key steps to take first:

  1. The first thing you must do if your dog or cat ate or were exposed to something that they should not have is to determine how much of the substance they actually ingested.
  2. Save labels or take pictures so that you are able to show the ingredients to your pet’s veterinarian.
  3. Your veterinarian should be the first point of contact in the case of such an event. Call the nearest emergency veterinary hospital if it is outside of normal business hours.

Please follow the advice of your veterinarian. If your dog has ingested something toxic, they must immediately be taken to a hospital or clinic for treatment. If your veterinarian does not recommend seeing your pet right away, you should observe them carefully for any signs of illness. Things to be on the lookout for include:

  1. Vomiting – Your dog may vomit from simple gastrointestinal distress after eating something other than their dog or cat food. However, intractable or repeated vomiting can signal a toxin ingestion or another serious issue like gastric dilation volvulus. These conditions are life threatening and require emergency treatment right away.
  2. Lethargy – If your dog is acting oddly, or “not themselves,” it is a clue that the ingestion might be serious. Veterinary care should be sought as soon as possible.
  3. Hypersalivation – Excessive drooling may signal a toxin exposure or an injury to the mouth. It can also be a sign of nausea. If your dog or cat is in hypersalivation, you should reach out to their veterinarian.
  4. Weakness – If your dog or cat appears to be weak, is stumbling, or has difficulty walking, the likelihood of a toxin ingestion is higher. This is a sign that your dog requires veterinary care.
  5. Seizures – Twitching, rapid leg or eye movements, and convulsions are all signs that something is wrong. These abnormal movements may be due to a toxin or another issue that the dog is experiencing.
  6. Dribbling urine – Leaking urine is often seen in cases of marijuana toxicity. Dogs or cats exhibiting this sign should be taken to the nearest veterinary clinic for treatment.

If you are unable to reach your veterinarian, a great resource for help is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The APCC is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach them at (888) 426-4435. There is a one-time $75 fee for this service.

Final Thoughts: Is Giving a Pet Weed Killer Safe?

No, weed killer is not safe for pets, and:

  • Weed killer has glyphosate, which is toxic to animals.
  • If a pet eats weed killer, the consequences range from diarrhea to poisoning.
  • If a pet gets weed killer on its skin, the consequences are rashes, skin irritation, and blisters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources

Our writing staff and team of veterinarians have dedicated a ton of time and energy to bringing you the best information possible about household products and food to help make sure your pets are safe.

You can check out our giant guide to human foods dogs can and can not eat, and we’ve created guides on whether over 40 human foods are safe for dogs to eat.

We’ve also created a series of posts on what household products are and aren’t safe for your pet, including:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.