FERTILIZER WARNINGS FOR ANIMALS
The Scoop on Pets, Livestock & Fertilizers
Plants and fertilizers together are a beautiful thing! Without a doubt, fertilizers are a key element for great landscapes and flowers. But, how do we balance between what is good for our plants and safe for our pets? Ensuring that our pets are safe and that they remain un-fertilized should always be our goal!
Most over-the-counter fertilizers bought today are designed to be relatively safe for families and pets when properly diluted and administered. But the caution is when they are in their concentrate form; they can pose serious health issues to our family and pets. Care and attention should be exercised when buying, applying and storing fertilizers around family and pets. Strangely, there is always that one pet that loves the taste of something that should send him running!
WHAT MAKES FERTILIZERS DANGEROUS?
ll fertilizer labels have three bold numbers that correspond to the amount of the primary elements: nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (K) & Potassium (K). Along with the major elements, there are other micronutrients that can cause problems with pets, such as iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, boron, manganese & molybdenum, some of which may be toxic in large amounts. Also, fertilizers can contain pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that can increase the risk of poisoning.
A large ingestion of fertilizer can result in severe poisoning. When a recently fertilized plant has been chewed on or ingested, generally the pet will be ok and may only show a upset stomach. If fertilizer is ingested directly out of the container, this can lead to serious issues or death, especially when insecticides are part of ingredients.
THE LOCK UP SOLUTION
A simple step is to lock up your pet or project while the yard is being treated and give 3-8 hours for the fertilizer to dry or be absorbed into the ground. If applying granules into the dirt, bury them 4” deep and then water the area well. This will reduce the exposure to your pet by allowing the plants to absorb the fertilizer.
TYPES OF COMMON FERTILIZERS
One of my favorite fertilizers is bone meal. When mixed into the soil and watered, it has a long lasting (4-6 months) effects on your plants root system and your plants love it. A side benefit is that ground based rodents like gophers, moles & ground squirrels hate it are repelled by the smell of it! Mix it into your flower beds and watch your gopher problems go away!
Bone meal by definition is animal by-products from the meat packing plants which are ground down into a meal format. Some are used in carnivore animal feed. This is the reason our pets are attracted to the smell and taste of it. But bone meal fertilizer can cause problems for pets. When it is mixed well into the soil and watered, pets are less likely to be able to eat it. If your pet ingests bone meal directly from the container, I would recommend a vet visit for an x-ray. Large amounts of bone meal can turn into a big lump or ball in the stomach and cause blockages in the digestive track.
Cocoa mulch is made from hulls and shells of the cocoa bean and is primarily used as mulch in flowerbeds. Ingested cocoa (chocolate) mulch can present all sorts of problems for your pet. To err on the side of caution, if you are putting down fresh mulch or bark, pick something other than cocoa mulch. There are great safe options in wood chips, manure, rubber & plant bark mulches will look great
SNAIL BATE MEAL
Another effective product is snail bait meal. This stuff is the terminator to snails! But along with snails, this stuff can be fatal to your pets! Our pets eat it like the bone meal. Especially the older mixes that contain the ingredient called metaldehyde. It causes a terrible & toxic death to animals that eat it. Today’s labels say that it is safe for people and pets. But if you are planning on using this type of products, I would still treat them the same way as you would the older metaldehyde baits.
Another effective and safe way to eliminate snails is the daily, early more stroll in the yard. This is when all of the snails are out and they can be easily stepped on or picked up. If you do this every morning, you will make a dent in their population and keep your pets safe from poisoning.
SYMPTOMS OF POISONING
GUM COLOR SCALE
Have you ever wondered what normal gum color is in your pet or project? It can be a puzzling question and more importantly…what does the color really mean?
For starters, ALL pets and projects have some variation of pinkish gums. Pink indicates good blood circulation.
Bubble Gum Pink is good & normal. Healthy gums when pressed with a finger should turn white under the pressure and then return to a soft pink color. Much like your sunburned skin reacts when pressed.
Patriotic Hues (Red, White or Blueish) or Brown-to-Yellow indicates something bad is brewing and your vet needs to see your pet immediately.
SYMPTOMS OF INGESTION MAY BE:
- Nausea or Diarrhea
- Vomiting (immediately or within 12 hours)
- Arched posture (due to abdominal pain)
- Difficulty breathing
- “Muddy” or Pale colored gums
Unhealthy gum color can indicate a range of issues from anemia, infection, dehydration, internal bleeding, poisoning, trauma, shock, poisoning, lack of oxygen, heart disease, parasites or allergic reactions.