Fertilizers and Pesticides Poisoning in Dogs – Symptoms & Causes

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 01/07/21 •  11 min read
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Most dogs love to take a romp in the yard to enjoy your nice green grass. Dogs love to roll in it, sniff it, lay in it and some dogs enjoy chomping on a bit of grass now and then. However, can this be harmful to your pup? The answer may be yes, if you treat your yard and garden with pesticides and fertilizers. In fact, your fur baby can get very sick from being in garden or yard that’s been treated with fertilizers and pesticides.

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Lawn Chemicals on Dogs

Dogs naturally love the outdoors and love nothing more than a romp in the yard. However, that romp could make your fur baby sick if you use fertilizers or pesticides on the grass and in the garden. Health issues can turn up quickly if you just recently treated the grass or can develop slowly over time if your pup is regularly exposed to fertilizers and other lawn chemicals. The problem isn’t just found in your own yard; it can also be found in dog parks where the grass may be treated, and you don’t even realize it. Lawn chemicals are a known health hazard to wild animals. While everyone knows this, they forget to understand that these chemicals can also be harmful to our fur babies, including dogs. Poisoning from yard chemicals is a common problem seen in many veterinary offices.

Dog Fertilizer Poisoning

Fertilizer ingestion is a common health problem seen in dogs, especially if they eat grass that’s been treated. Fertilizer ingredients may include bone meal, blood meal, fish meal, corn or even corn cobs. These ingredients are temping for dogs; in fact, dogs have been known to tear open a bag of fertilizer to enjoy a bite or two. Other fertilizer ingredients can include nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, boron, zinc, cobalt and molybdenum. If eaten in large enough amounts, they can be extremely poisonous to your fur baby. In addition, some fertilizers may also include fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, which make fertilizer poisoning even more serious due to the high toxicity of these chemicals. Some chemicals in fertilizers can even cause cancer in dogs.

Some meal-based fertilizers can also cause stomach concretion, meaning that your pup’s stool will become hard as a rock, leading to gastrointestinal blockage, which is a health emergency. However, the issue isn’t only with eating the contents of a bag of fertilizer. If your dog eats grass or other plants in the yard that have been treated, he can also become ill. Or, your dog may simply roll or walk on the lawn and pick up fertilizer residue on his fur, skin, feet, etc. Then all it takes is a few licks and the fertilizer is now in your dog’s digestive system.

Dog Ate Fertilizer Symptoms

Symptoms of fertilizer poisoning in dogs usually depends on the amount of poison they’ve ingested. If your pup has ingested a small amount of fertilizer, he may experience mild stomach upset and some watery diarrhea. He may also have some bloating and gas. You may think he has a stomach virus, as it can be difficult to know if he’s eaten some grass or other plant that’s been treated. The only way to know for sure is if you see him eat plants that have recently been fertilized.

Dogs that have eaten a large amount of fertilizer or had longer exposure to treated yards and gardens may experience the follow symptoms:

Remember, your canine companion doesn’t have to eat grass or plants that have been treated with fertilizers. They may also walk or roll on the grass. Some dogs can develop:

If you know your dog has been exposed to fertilizer and he’s showing even mild symptoms of poisoning, then it’s a good idea to call your vet. Fast treatment can limit the effects of fertilizer poisoning in your fur baby.

If your dog ate fertilizer throwing up, then you’ll need to get him to the vet as soon as possible. This is a medical emergency and your dog needs fast treatment—it could save his life.

Treatment for Dog Fertilizer Poisoning

Your vet’s treatment plan will depend on the type and amount of fertilizer your dog’s been exposed to or the amount he’s ingested. Treatment will also depend on the other substances included in the fertilizer, such as herbicides and/or pesticides. If your fur baby’s symptoms are serious, he may need to be hospitalized for a time.

The usual therapy for fertilizer poisoning is generally supportive in nature. This means your dog will be stabilized, his breathing and heart rate controlled. Medications may be used to help your dog to urinate or to have bowel movements, which helps get the chemicals out of your dog’s system faster. Other treatment may also include medication for stomach problems, poison absorbents and topical medications for skin issues.

Recovery from Fertilizer Poisoning in Dogs

The good news is that most dogs go on to recover completely, especially if the poisoning was mild. In the case of extensive poisoning, recovery time will be longer.

Pesticide Poisoning in Dogs

Pesticide poisoning is another common problem in dogs who love to be outside. Many of us commonly treat our yards and gardens with pesticides to get rid of unwanted insects and other pests. However, these chemicals can be extremely dangerous to dogs. Pesticide poisoning is another common issue seen in many veterinary emergency rooms. When your dog walks, rolls or eats grass and plants treated with pesticides, he’s exposed to the harmful chemicals meant to kill insects, etc. Again, all he has to do is lick his skin, his foot, etc. to accidentally ingest these substances.

Not only that, but when he comes into the house, your dog tracks pesticide residue all through the house. Poisonous residue may be found in higher levels in your dog’s favorite spots, such as where he sleeps or likes to lay down, etc. The chemicals become ground into the carpet, your home’s fabric furniture and bedding, etc. Over the years, the chemical residue can rise to harmful levels, increasing your dog’s exposure every day. Pesticides can also put off harmful fumes. Have you ever noticed the smell after pesticide has been applied to your lawn or garden? Those fumes can be toxic to dogs and even people.

Dog Symptoms of Pesticide Poisoning

Dogs who have been exposed to a small amount of pesticide may have a mild reaction that includes:

If your dog’s been exposed to a higher amount of pesticide chemicals, then you’ll have to watch for these signs and symptoms:

These types of reactions are considered an emergency and you must get your dog to the vet as soon as possible for treatment. In some cases, pesticide poisoning can lead to death.

Pesticide Poisoning Diagnosis & Treatment in Dogs

When you get to the vet’s, let them know you suspect pesticide poisoning, and be sure to share all the details you know about the situation. For example, did you see your dog eating grass or plants recently treated with pesticides? Did he inhale the pesticide fumes? Was he rolling in the grass and later became sick after the yard was treated with pesticides?

Your vet will give your dog a complete examination, which may include blood tests, urinalysis and a biochemistry profile. This last test is used to measure the function of your dog’s pancreas, liver, sugar processes and his kidney.

In addition, the vet will examine your pup’s clinical signs and may also test his electrolyte levels to see if the pesticide poisoning is causing dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.Treatment will depend on the type of pesticide and how much exposure your pup has had. Treatment usually begins soon possible, often while waiting test results.

Treatment may include:

Recovery from Pesticide Poisoning in Dogs

Recovery depends, again, on the type of pesticide and level of exposure. Most dogs that respond well to treatment may need to stay with the vet for 24 hours or so. Your vet may want to keep an eye on your dog to make sure he continues to do well. Once your dog comes home, you’ll still want to make sure to watch him for any unusual signs or symptoms that could develop or cause you to be concerned. When your pup is feeling back to his normal self, the vet will probably want to see him again as a follow-up to make sure he’s recovering as he should.

Dog & Pesticide Questions

1. My dog walked on grass with pesticide, should I be concerned? Yes, as this could cause skin irritation and/or burning. To avoid this issue, be sure to wash your dog’s feet immediately after you get back inside. If you notice any irritation or she’s licking her feet quite a bit, then be sure to get him to the vet. The vet will be able to treat your dog’s feet to make him more comfortable.

2. What about pesticides dog seizures? Can pesticides cause seizures in dogs? Yes, there are some types of pesticides that contain chemicals, such as organophosphates or carbamates, which can cause seizures in dogs. If you believe your dog is having seizures, be sure to get him to the vet as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment, even if you believe your pup hasn’t been exposed to pesticides. Seizures are a serious medical issue that needs to be evaluated and treated as soon as possible.

Prevent Pesticide and Fertilizer From Poisoning Your Dog

There are some measures you can take to make sure your dog is not exposed to these harmful chemicals and substances:

Fertilizer and pesticide poisoning can be a serious matter for your dog. Take steps to keep him safe from these chemicals and protect his long-term health.

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.