While your dog might be your best friend, he is not your lawn’s best friend 🙂
For all of their wonderful characteristics, dogs have no concept of how to properly treat a lawn. Homeowners who also have pets often struggle to find a balance between caring for their four-legged friends and preserving their lawn’s beauty.
Your first step in determining this balance is to research grass seed that can stand up to this unique challenge.
How Can Pets Damage a Lawn?
When asked this question, the first thing that most people think of is poop – and lots of it. While piles of poo can certainly mar an otherwise pristine landscape, pet urine is actually much more harmful to your lawn.
Pet urine is VERY high in nitrogen.
While this is beneficial for your lawn in small amounts, pets generally tend to use the bathroom in the same area over and over again. Just like over-fertilization, chronic exposure to urine can burn the roots of grass, killing it, and leaving behind unsightly brown and bare patches of lawn.
Other ways that dogs can damage a lawn include rolling, digging, and chewing.
Is Grass Seed Safe For Dogs?
While grass seed itself is not harmful to dogs directly, certain types of grass seed can be coated in fertilizers, wetting agents, or other chemicals that could potentially harm a pet if ingested. Additionally, dogs may inhale grass seed, which can lead to respiratory issues.
Why is Grass Seed Dangerous for Dogs?
Seeds can easily become lodged in a dog’s fur or skin, causing a range of health issues. Here are some of the reasons why grass seed is dangerous for dogs:
- Embedded in Skin: Grass seeds have sharp, pointed ends that allow them to easily penetrate a dog’s skin. Once they become embedded, they can cause irritation, inflammation, and infection.
- Travel through the Body: If a grass seed is not removed promptly, it can travel through a dog’s body and cause serious health issues. For example, a seed that becomes lodged in a dog’s nose can travel to the lungs, causing pneumonia.
- Damage to Eyes: Grass seeds can also cause damage to a dog’s eyes. If a seed becomes lodged in the eye, it can cause irritation, inflammation, and even corneal ulcers.
- Ingestion: While less common, dogs can also ingest grass seeds. If this happens, the seed can cause digestive issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Symptoms of Grass Seed Ingestion in Dogs
Vomiting and diarrhea: Dogs that have ingested grass seeds may experience vomiting and diarrhea.
Coughing and sneezing: If a grass seed becomes lodged in a dog’s nose or throat, they may start coughing or sneezing.
Lethargy and depression: Dogs that are feeling unwell due to grass seed ingestion may become lethargic and depressed.
Loss of appetite: If a dog is experiencing discomfort due to grass seed ingestion, they may lose their appetite. They may be less interested in eating their regular meals or may refuse food altogether.
Swelling and pain: Grass seeds can cause swelling and pain in various parts of the body. For example, if a seed becomes lodged in a dog’s paw, it can cause swelling and pain in that area. Similarly, if a seed gets stuck in a dog’s ear, it can cause inflammation and discomfort.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested a grass seed, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. Early detection and treatment can help prevent serious complications and ensure a speedy recovery.
Turf Style Tall Fescue
Turf-style (or type) tall fescue is a relatively new entry to the grass seed market.
It has been specially bred to be tougher than other types of turf grass while maintaining an attractive look.
Although it will require daily watering until becomes mature (generally between 60 and 90 days), it does have excellent drought tolerance after it has established itself. It can survive a broad range of temperatures and does well in salty and poor soils.
Perennial Rye Grass
Suitable for use in a wide variety of climates, perennial ryegrass performs best in cooler temperatures.
However, with appropriate amounts of water, it will stand up to hot temperatures. Perennial ryegrass has a high tolerance for foot traffic and has a reputation for durability.
Because it has an aggressive growth pattern, this type of grass will quickly germinate and spread to cover paw marks and urine damage.
In the United States, Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular options when it comes to grass seed.
It thrives in cool weather climates, and when properly watered, it will even grow during the warmer seasons. Because it spreads via rhizomes, it will quickly cover damaged portions of your lawn.
Keeping Your Pet Safe
Most grass seed, in and of itself, will not harm a pet should your dog or cat ingest it; however, most veterinarians recommend looking for grass seed that is not loaded down with chemicals.
The real safety issue lies in the type of fertilizer you choose to use on your lawn.
Although there are commercial pet-friendly fertilizers available, even these will have certain restrictions and precautions listed (e.g. keeping your dog away from newly laid fertilizer for 24 hours).
You must take care to read the labels carefully.
For an additional dose of safety, any clumps or clods of grass seed or fertilizer should be broken up and dispersed.
Puppies and kittens, in particular, will find any new objects on the ground interesting. They might even decide that it’s worth a taste or two.
Any remaining grass seed or fertilizer should be stored in an out-of-reach plastic bin with a secure, locking lid. Pets have an extraordinary ability to get into places that they shouldn’t be, so even if you are using pet-friendly products on your lawn, you should familiarize yourself with the symptoms of chemical poisoning.
This list of common symptoms includes:
- Muscle tremors
- Swelling of the joints
If your pets experience any of these symptoms, they should be taken to a vet immediately.
With the proper precautions in place, both you and your pets can enjoy your lawn!