Kill weeds, not pets

May 30, 2017 at 9:00 AM by Nikki Wardle

Pets and weed killers

As the weather turns warmer and the days get longer, you're probably noticing a few unwelcome visitors pop up in your lawn and garden. The last thing you want for your property is to grow a weed patch, so you've probably already set the wheels in motion to eradicate a few dandelions, button weed, and other plants from your yard.

But before you head outside with a sprayer, consider this: your lawn isn't only a place for you and your family to spend your time. Your pets also call your yard home, and whatever weed killer you use must be pet-friendly enough to ensure that you're not inadvertently endangering their health. Here are some tips for keeping your lawn pet-friendly this summer.

Pet-Friendly Weed Killers

There are some natural, organic, and home-based weed control methods that will help you get rid of the dandelions and keep your pet healthy. Try a few of these.

Boiling Water

If you're looking to kill an entire section of plants, boiling water is a good solution. Boiling water will cook—and thus kill—any plant you throw it on, so be sure you only use this method in an area that you want to eradicate everything. Once the boiling water has done the trick, it's easy to pull the dead weeds.

Vinegar, Salt, or Sugar

Did you know that you have effective weed killers sitting on your pantry shelf? Vinegar is a great pet-friendly weed killer when sprayed directly on the weeds you want to kill. You may have to spray vinegar a few times on more tenacious weeds, but it'll get the job done, especially when it's hot outside. Salt can also be an effective weed suppressant since salt makes soil unsuitable for plants. This is ideal for gravel or patio areas where you want to discourage any plants from growing. Finally, sugar is a surprisingly effective pet-friendly weed killer. Sugar makes soil temporarily inhospitable for plants and is an excellent way to kill weed trees, vines, and bushes that pop up and are difficult to pull out.


Cornmeal is another pantry item that can serve as a weed killer. Cornmeal has a chemical in it that will prevent plant seeds from germinating, making it particularly effective for weed prevention. Sprinkle it in areas that you'd like to avoid harming current plants but prevent weeds from growing.

Soap-based Weed Killer

Finally, many gardeners find that a mixture of dish soap and water is a safe, effective, inexpensive way to manage weeds. Simply mix water and soap in a spray bottle and head out to your yard to apply.

Know the Signs of Poisoning

Although you'll do your best to keep your lawn pet-friendly, you never know where your dog may come into contact with commercial or retail toxic fertilizers or weed killers. Know the signs of poisoning, and watch out for these symptoms this summer.

  1. Tremors or seizures
  2. Vomiting and diarrhea
  3. Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
  4. Redness/rash on skin, particularly eyes and ears
  5. Paranoia or excitability
  6. Bleeding
  7. Blisters in the mouth
  8. Swelling
  9. Elevated or decreased body temperature

We want you and your pets to have a wonderful summer and keep your lawn wee-fee. However, if you suspect that your dog has somehow ingested or come into contact with any toxic lawn products, contact us right away for an emergency evaluation and treatment. 

Topics: Pet Care

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has been writing for Intermountain Pet Hospital since 2014.

Plants that are harmful to your pets