Are fertilisers dangerous for dogs and cats to eat?

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What do fertilisers contain?

One of the many spring jobs for the keen gardener is the application of fertiliser to the lawn and/or the garden borders. General purpose fertilisers contain the nutrients nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, often listed as NPK on packaging. Ingestion of any amount, other than trivial quantities, is likely to cause gastric upset. Dogs are often keen to eat large amounts of fertiliser if they are given half a chance.

What will I see if my dog eats fertiliser?

Any ingestion can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea especially if large quantities have been eaten, which may lead to your pet becoming dehydrated. There may also be some irritation of the mouth and gums, so if you see your dog ingesting fertiliser try and encourage them to have a drink or ask your vet how to safely wash their mouth out with water.  Irritation of the paws may also occur if they have trodden in freshly laid fertiliser, and you may notice this if you see your animal licking at them. Washing the paws is the best way to soothe them and there should not be any need to see the vet unless the soreness continues.

Are moss-killers, weed-killers or ‘weed and feed’ products poisonous to dogs and cats?

Any fertiliser that contains additional moss- killers or weed-killers will present more of a hazard when ingested, and if you suspect this is the case, or the box states that the preparation is a ‘Weed and Feed’ type of product there is more of a concern.   Iron salts are often added to kill moss and chemicals called phenoxy acids are used to kill weeds and these can cause more serious signs in cats and dogs, depending on the amount that has been eaten.  Cats may even get mild effects after walking on a freshly treated lawn and then licking their paws.  If you are concerned call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000 to find out whether a visit to the vet is required or not.

Animal PoisonLine's 5 Top Tips for pets and fertiliser

  • Have fun in the garden with your pets but make sure dogs aren’t eating the fertiliser whilst you are applying it to the garden!
  • Store any unopened bags away from sharp claws and inquisitive noses.
  • Securely re-seal any opened bags and store out of reach of animals.
  • Clear away or sweep up any spillages or excess fertiliser from patios, decking or lawns.
  • Call for advice if you know that your pet has eaten fertiliser containing moss or weed killer and have the packaging to hand