Picture this: your dog bounding across a lush, green lawn, tail wagging and tongue lolling, a picture-perfect scene of canine joy. It’s every dog owner’s dream to provide their pet with an outdoor space where they can play, explore, and exercise to their heart’s content; but when it comes to creating that perfect play space for your beloved companion, there are a few factors to consider.
You might not realize it yet, but the type of grass seed you choose and the seeding method you employ can have a significant impact on your pet’s health and enjoyment.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into two popular grass-seeding methods — hydroseeding and mefenoxam — examining their respective advantages and potential drawbacks in terms of safety for our four-legged friends. We will also discuss alternative options and provide helpful tips on how to create the ideal, safe outdoor environment for your furry family member.
So, let’s dive in and learn more about hydroseeding and mefenoxam — because a well-informed dog owner is a great dog owner!
Is Grass Seed Safe for Dogs?
Grass seeds are small, oval-shaped structures that contain the plant embryo and serve as the primary means of propagation for grass species, thus playing a vital role in creating lush, green lawns that both humans and dogs can enjoy. However, some dog owners may wonder whether grass seed is safe for their four-legged friends.
While most grass seeds are harmless, certain types can pose risks to your pet’s health when they come into contact with them — either through consumption or by penetrating their skin or becoming embedded in fur.
The severity of the risk depends on the specific type of grass seed, its maturity, and where it becomes lodged in your dog’s body.
Toxicity levels of grass seeds also depend on the specific type of grass and the maturity of the seed. Most common lawn grasses are non-toxic and do not pose a threat to your dog’s health if ingested in small quantities.
However, some ornamental grasses used in landscaping can be toxic to dogs if consumed in large amounts. Always research the specific grass species you plan to use in your yard and consult with your veterinarian regarding its safety for your pet.
The primary risk posed by grass seeds is not due to their toxicity but rather their physical properties.
Sharp or barbed, two-centimeter-long seeds can easily penetrate your dog’s skin, ears, eyes, or respiratory tract and cause irritation, inflammation, and infections. Ingested seeds may lead to intestinal blockages or other digestive issues. Furthermore, certain invasive grass seeds can migrate through your dog’s body, causing pain and potential complications requiring medical intervention.
Therefore, it’s vital to be vigilant about monitoring your dog closely when playing in areas with long grasses or freshly seeded lawns. We share tips for mitigating these risks later in the article.
Grass seed penetration can cause various symptoms in dogs, depending on which part of their body is affected:
When grass seeds penetrate a dog’s skin, the initial symptoms may include redness, swelling, and irritation at the site of entry. As the seed migrates further into the tissue, it can cause localized pain, inflammation, and even abscess formation due to infection. In some cases, a small puncture wound or tract may be visible where the seed entered the skin.
Your dog might exhibit excessive licking or biting at the affected area or show signs of discomfort and sensitivity when touched.
Grass seed penetration in a dog’s eye can lead to serious complications if not promptly addressed. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, discharge, and excessive tearing.
Your dog may squint, rub their face against surfaces, or paw at their eye in an attempt to relieve discomfort. In more severe cases, you may notice cloudiness or a visible foreign object in the eye.
If left untreated, grass seeds in the eye can cause corneal ulcers, infections, and even vision loss or permanent damage.
Dogs’ paws are particularly vulnerable to grass seed penetration due to their direct contact with the ground while walking or playing. Symptoms of grass seed penetration in the paws may include limping, licking or chewing at their feet and visible swelling or redness between their toes or on their footpads.
In some cases, you may also see a small puncture wound where the grass seed has entered the paw.
Untreated grass seed penetration in the paws can result in infection, abscess formation, or even damage to tendons and ligaments if the seed migrates deeper into the foot.
Recognizing these signs early on can help prevent complications and ensure proper treatment for your pet. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Early intervention can prevent complications and ensure a swift recovery for your pet.
Now, let’s see how safe are the most popular seeding methods for your pet.
Hydroseeding: An Overview
Hydroseeding is a method of planting grass seed by combining it with a mixture of water, mulch, and fertilizer. This slurry is then sprayed onto the soil, providing an ideal environment for seed germination and growth.
This method has become increasingly popular among homeowners and landscapers due to its efficiency and effectiveness. The hydroseeded lawn establishes quickly, requires less water than traditional seeding methods, and results in a dense, weed-resistant turf.
However, pet owners should be aware of potential hazards related to hydroseeding:
For one, the mix used in hydroseeding can contain certain ingredients that may be dangerous for dogs and other pets if ingested or exposed to before completely dry. Primarily, you should check for polymers and the type of fertilizer being used, as many fertilizers contain harmful chemicals that can be dangerous for dogs if ingested. The good news is that after around 72 hours, most fertilizers lose their toxicity.
It’s advised to keep your dog off the hydroseed treated area for at least 10-14 days to allow the seeds to germinate properly and avoid any potential hazards from fertilizers or polymers used in the mix. The exact duration can vary depending on the grass species used and environmental conditions. After this period, generally, any hazard present should be negated.
If you have no choice but to let your dog onto the treated area during this time, ask your contractor to use organic fertilizer or compost, as these are usually pet-safe alternatives.
Mefenoxam: An Overview
Mefenoxam is a fungicide often used in combination with grass seed to protect against diseases like damping-off and those caused by Pythium and Phytophthora, which are common pathogens affecting a wide range of crops, such as vegetables, fruit trees, and turf grass.
This chemical compound works by inhibiting the growth and reproduction of fungal pathogens, protecting plants from infection and disease. It is often applied as a seed treatment to safeguard newly germinated plants from disease or as a foliar spray to protect mature plants.
However, mefenoxam can be toxic to animals and humans if ingested.
Mefenoxam is toxic to dogs and can cause various symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, and even kidney failure. The exact mechanism of toxicity is not well understood; however, it is thought that the fungicide interferes with normal cell function in the body, particularly in the kidneys.
This interference can lead to organ damage and the release of toxins into the bloodstream, causing multiple symptoms. The severity of these symptoms depends on:
- the amount of mefenoxam ingested,
- the size of the dog,
- the dog’s overall health.
Ingestion of large amounts of mefenoxam can be fatal to dogs.
Thus, it’s crucial to keep dogs away from treated areas until the product has dried completely. To further minimize the risk of exposure, you can consider using alternative, pet-friendly fungicides or implement preventative measures that reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases in your lawn.
How to Protect Your Dog from Grass Seed
Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your dog from grass seed dangers. By implementing several practical measures, you can reduce the risk of grass seed-related injuries and ensure a safe environment for your furry friend.
- Regular inspections. After spending time outdoors, thoroughly inspect your dog’s coat, ears, eyes, and paws for any signs of embedded grass seeds. Early detection and removal can prevent complications such as infection and inflammation.
- Grooming. Keep your dog’s fur trimmed around its ears, paws, and belly to minimize the risk of grass seed entanglement. Regular brushing also helps remove loose seeds that might be caught in their coat.
- Choose safer grass varieties. When selecting a grass seed for your lawn, opt for a variety that poses less risk to your pet, so consider consulting a local nursery or landscaping professional for recommendations based on your region and specific needs.
- Maintain your lawn. Keep your lawn well-maintained by mowing regularly and removing any tall, seeding grasses or weeds that could produce harmful seed heads. This not only keeps your yard looking great but also reduces the potential hazards for your dog.
- Create designated play areas. Consider creating a designated play area for your dog within your yard, using pet-safe ground cover like mulch or artificial turf. This can help minimize their exposure to potentially harmful grass seeds while still providing them with space to run and play.
- Use pet-safe treatments. If you decide to use mefenoxam, hydroseeding, or any other lawn treatments in your yard, follow all safety guidelines and keep your dog away from treated areas until they are safe to use. Investigate alternative pet-safe options, such as hardwearing grass seed mixtures, if available.
- Train your dog. Teach your dog to avoid specific areas where grass seeds may pose a risk, such as tall grasses or freshly seeded lawns. Basic obedience commands like “leave it” and “come” can be helpful in steering your dog away from potential hazards.
- Monitor outdoor play. Supervise your dog during outdoor play, especially in areas with long newly-seed grass or unkempt vegetation. Keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort or unusual behavior that might indicate grass seed exposure.
How to Remove Grass Seed from a Dog’s Skin
If you notice that a grass seed has become embedded in your dog’s skin or fur, it’s crucial to remove it as soon as possible.
Here’s how you do it:
- Put on a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the sharp seed. Then gently part your dog’s fur to expose the area where the grass seed is lodged.
- Using tweezers or your fingers, carefully grasp the exposed end of the grass seed and gently pull it out.
- Be sure to check the surrounding area for any additional seeds that may have gone unnoticed.
- After removing the grass seed, clean the affected area with mild soap and water, then apply an antiseptic ointment to prevent infection.
As dog owners, we want nothing more than to provide our pets with a safe and enjoyable environment to play in.
By understanding the potential risks associated with different grass seeding methods and treatments, such as hydroseeding and mefenoxam, we can make informed decisions about our lawns that prioritize our pets’ safety.
Regular inspections, grooming, and lawn care, along with selecting pet-friendly grass types and treatments, can significantly reduce the likelihood of grass seed-related injuries.
By implementing these practical measures and keeping your pet’s safety in mind, you can make the best decision for your lawn and ensure countless hours of fun and frolic for your four-legged companion.
Enamored with the world of golf Jack pursued a degree in Golf Course Management at THE Ohio State University. This career path allowed him to work on some of the highest profile golf courses in the country! Due to the pandemic, Jack began Inside The Yard as a side hustle that quickly became his main hustle. Since starting the company, Jack has relocated to a homestead in Central Arkansas where he and his wife raise cattle and two little girls.