Pet friendly weed killer – Protect garden plants from harmful weeds does not mean risking your pet’s health. We share pet safe weed killer ideas. [DETAILS] Commercial herbicides can be harmful to pets that come in contact with them. Pet-safe weed control options include pulling weeds by hand, smothering, burning, and using less toxic chemicals. Chemical lawn treatments can harm your dog or cat. If you want to keep weeds out, consider using a pet-safe weed killer on this list.
Keep Your Pets Safe With These Pet Friendly Weed Killer Idea!
You want to take care of your lawn, and take care of your pets.
There are lots of weed killers on the market for keeping a garden and lawn weed free. However, many of these weed killers are not safe for pets – cats, dogs, and typical backyard wildlife. Furthermore, commercial weed killers can be very costly.
Luckily, there are lots of weed killing alternatives that are safe, effective, cheap, not toxic, and easy to make.
In this article, we will share some ideas and easy recipes to help you make your own kid and pet safe weed killer. Read on to learn more.
There Are Lots Of Good Reasons To Say NO To Commercial Weed Killer
Most of the weed and grass killers you find and buy at the store are filled with chemicals. Some of these are very harsh and damaging to plants, other kinds damage living organisms and the environment.
Many “weed preventer” products contain active ingredients making them quite dangerous. Although labeled as “safe” weed control materials, the term is very subjective.
While this weed control product may technically be “safe” under very narrow usage guidelines, this does not necessarily mean the weed killer is safe for your dog, cat, and other pets, kids, wildlife or you to touch, breathe or accidentally ingest.
Furthermore, no matter how “safe” chemicals are, its residue will eventually end up in the water system. Chemicals buildup in our waterways causing great harm to all life on earth.
Think about this: If commercial chemical weed killers are “safe” for dogs and cats, why do professional lawn service personnel wear impressive protective gear and set up hazard warning signs all around treated areas?
The reason is that if pets, kids or incidental wildlife come in contact with the grass killer poison within the first 24 hours, it can be absorbed through the skin.
Little children may put hands to mouth and ingest the poison. Pets and wildlife may actively lick it off. If the poison comes in contact with eyes, it can do a great deal of damage.
Clearly, chemical herbicides or commercial weed killers are not actually safe for use around living beings.
What Can You Do For A Pet Friendly Weed Killer?
There are many truly safe ways to manage weeds in your yard, lawn, and garden. Here are 8 simple, easy safe, pet-friendly weed killer ideas you can try!
Pull them up by hand!
It may seem old-fashioned and it may involve quite a bit of work, but it’s absolutely safe and you’ll get a bit of a workout pulling weeds.
If you stay on top of it, it’s really not very hard to pull weeds by hand in your flower and veggie gardens.
For weeds embedded in your lawn, invest in a special digging fork that will make it easy to grab and pull their long tap roots from the ground.
Use a layer of compost and/or mulch to suppress weeds.
Keeping your flower and veggie beds well-fed with compost and well covered with mulch is a natural way to control weeds and weed seeds.
Landscape fabric blocks weed growth.
You can install landscape fabric under stones and pavers as a weed preventer in walkways. It can help protect the roots of trees and shrubs and keeps roots cool when covered with mulch. Note that weeds may try to grow in the mulch on top of the landscape fabric, but their roots will be shallow. Pulling these upstarts is a simple matter.
Note that weeds may try to grow in the mulch on top of the landscape fabric, but their roots will be shallow. Pulling these upstarts is a simple matter.
Douse weeds with boiling water.
Just boil water in a kettle and pour it carefully on the weeds you wish to kill. This is an especially dog-friendly weed killer and a good method for eradicating the weeds that grow up between the cracks in your patio, driveway or sidewalk.
Naturally, you must be careful not to come in contact with the boiling water, and be sure to keep kids and pets out of the way while you are at work.
Pure white vinegar is a great organic weed killer.
Simply decant white vinegar into a spray bottle and mist the weeds you want to kill. You may need to apply the vinegar several days in a row, but it will do the trick.
It’s best to apply your spray bottle of vinegar in the morning on a sunny day because the rays of the sun amplify the effectiveness.
Take extra care with over-spraying vinegar on your lawn and garden. Vinegar in high amounts will also kill your garden plants if you aren’t careful.
A little bit of salt will kill weeds.
It doesn’t take much for a quick and easy weed control. Just a generous sprinkle at the base of the unwanted weed will make the soil unsuitable for growing.
Be sure to use it carefully and only in the areas of the weeds you wish to eradicate.
Don’t strew it around in areas where your pet may walk because salt can be irritating to pets’ paws.
Sugar can be used in the same way as salt.
Applying it at the base of a weed will make the soil unsuitable for grass and plant growth. One downside is that sugar may attract ants or other sweet-toothed animals.
To avoid this, mix sugar and chili pepper powder 50/50. This is a good combination for killing off plants that have very deep roots. You can use it to kill weeds or “trash tree” saplings before they become too big.
You can use it to kill weeds or “trash tree” saplings before they become too big.
Prevent weed growth with corn meal.
Strewing cornmeal in areas where you don’t want weeds to grow will stop their seeds from germinating in the soil.
It won’t have any effect on mature plants, so you can sprinkle it around your established veggie garden and flower bed without fear of harming your crops. Corn gluten meals also offer a non-toxic plants and grass protection against weed.
Make Your Own Pet Safe Weed Killer Spray
If you have a large area to address, such as a fence-line, you may wish to make a spray solution you can apply with a standard weed killer sprayer. Here is a very easy DIY homemade herbicide recipe:
White Vinegar & Essential Oil Weed Killer
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon clove or lemon oil
- 1 drop of dish soap
(Multiply amounts as needed to make more.)
Combine all the above organic ingredients in a heat proof bowl. Note that if you don’t have any essential oil on hand, you can use dishwashing soap instead.
Allow the mixture to cool somewhat and then decant into a spray bottle or weed killer sprayer.
Carefully spray this mixture directly onto the weeds you wish to kill. As much as possible, avoid spraying it over expensive grass and nearby plants. It’s best to spray on a dry, bright, sunny, still day.
Avoid using this mixture on a windy day because over-spray may cause unwanted results. Don’t apply before or soon after a rain. Don’t water the soil within 24 hours after application.
Be Safe & Save Money!
Kid, wildlife and pet safe weed killers are easy and affordable to make at home. You may already have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen cupboards.
Understand that the smartest way to use these methods for lawn care is to combine them. Don’t just rely on one ingredient or one pet-friendly weed killer recipe.
Mix it up and use other organic techniques, such as pulling and mulching to present a safe, strong, natural defense against weeds.
5 Pet-Friendly Ways to Eliminate Weeds From Your Yard
Keep unwanted plants in check without harming your furry (and non-furry) family members.
Susan Appleget Hurst began sharing her extensive knowledge of growing and using herbs over 30 years ago. In addition to writing countless articles and columns for regional and national media outlets, Susan served as Senior Associate Editor of Garden and Outdoor Living at Better Homes & Gardens magazine. She also was the editor of Garden Shed magazine, Country Gardens, Growing and Using Herbs, Houseplants, and other garden titles for the Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living families of magazines. Speaking and teaching were her first loves and Susan has conducted hundreds of classes for novice and master gardeners and assisted gardeners with their concerns on live call-in radio shows.
Weeds are inevitable in the yard and garden. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals marketed to combat them can be harmful to the health of your pets if they are not used carefully. Even so-called environmentally friendly or natural herbicides are capable of injury if used improperly. This is especially a concern if you have a dog that likes to dig and roll in lawns and gardens. But our furry friends can pick up herbicides and other pesticides just by walking through the yard, too. Those substances get on their paws and fur, which they may then lick and get into their bodies while grooming themselves. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets safe while dealing with weeds.
Before you waste time, effort, and money on products that don’t work or that may pose a risk to your pet, put some thought into your level of tolerance for lawn and garden weeds. On one hand, a few lawn weeds aren’t problematic; as long as you work to keep the grass healthy the weeds aren’t likely to take over. Mulching garden beds well and regularly will keep weeds from taking over ornamental plantings. Alternatively, if you have no tolerance for weeds, then you’ll need to think carefully about what methods or chemicals to use in your yard. Here are the best weed control options to consider.
1. Weeding by Hand
The most effective means for eradicating lawn and garden weeds is still removing them by hand. It can be tedious work, but it’s the best way to ensure that the root of the weed is gone, as both toxic and non-toxic weed killers might leave it behind to regenerate (dandelions have particularly long roots). There are lots of handy weeding tools on the market that help speed up the process, so if your problem is sporadic weeds popping up, this is one way to handle them without using chemicals. It’s best to think of hand-weeding as an ongoing practice and it’s most effective when begun in spring. In garden beds, weed seedlings can be eradicated by hoeing.
The other primary benefit of weeding by hand is that you can be selective; only the plants that you want to kill will be damaged. Most environmentally-friendly herbicides and weed-killing methods are not selective; they’ll kill or damage any plant they touch.
2. Smothering Weeds
Like any plant, weeds need sunlight to thrive. If you block their access to light, weeds will die. The easiest way to do this is by laying down a thick layer (3-5 inches) of organic mulch such as wood chips or pine needles. (Avoid cocoa mulch, which is toxic to dogs if eaten.) The mulch allows water and air through but keeps sunlight out; soil stays healthy but small weeds and seeds hidden under the mulch don’t survive. When you’re creating a new garden, opaque plastic sheeting, layers of cardboard, or carpet scraps can be laid over the area where you want to kill all plants. Leave the layers in place for about 6 weeks during the growing season to get the job done. Avoid tilling the soil afterward to prevent buried weed seeds from germinating.
3. Horticultural Vinegar
Vinegar, in a concentrated form for herbicide use, can kill young, tender plants. It’s non-selective, meaning it will damage any plant it touches. Keep in mind that concentrated horticultural vinegar used as a weed killer is a strong acid so you should avoid getting it on your skin (make sure to wear garden gloves) or in your eyes or nose. Make sure the vinegar dries before your pet walks on treated areas. Read and follow label directions carefully. Horticultural vinegar works well for cracks in the sidewalk or driveway. It only damages the plant tissues that it touches, so it may require repeated applications to destroy established weeds. Although vinegar sounds like an inexpensive solution, the concentrated type that kills weeds can be as expensive as standard commercial herbicides.
4. Burning or Boiling Weeds
If occasional weeds are a problem such as those pesky sprouts that pop up between patio pavers or cracks in the driveway, they can be burned with a weeding torch or scalded with boiling water. But of course, both those options require care to prevent personal injury. They also don’t kill roots of established weeds and may have to be repeated several times over the summer.
5. Other Natural or Organic Options
There are several commercially available products that use concentrated essential oils, soaps, or other ingredients. Very few of them are selective weed killers so they’ll damage anything they touch, and they have different levels of effectiveness. Although a product may claim to be made of natural ingredients, that doesn’t mean that it won’t irritate skin, eyes, or noses. Corn gluten meal showed initial promise as a pre-emergent herbicide, but timing of application is critical and it doesn’t affect established weeds. Some products do work but take days to show results, and many require repeated applications. Read and follow label directions carefully, don’t expect instant or permanent results, and keep pets away from newly-treated areas according to the product’s instructions.
What Not to Use
Some household products suggested for killing weeds, such as salt, borax, or sugar are not only ineffective, but they can damage the soil. For example, borax will inhibit plant growth but it’s also illegal to apply it to the soil in many areas. Salt also can cause a serious imbalance in soil chemistry. Sugar attracts pests of all kinds, and might even entice your pets or wildlife to eat something they otherwise shouldn’t.
No matter what method or product (if any) you use to control yard or garden weeds, your pet will benefit from the careful thought you put into it.
Pet-Safe Weed Killer: 5 Options to Protect Your Lawn
Dogs enjoy frolicking in yards and rolling around in grass. It’s what they do. But if you’re a homeowner who likes to keep their lawn in tip-top shape, then a pet-safe weed killer is incredibly important.
Traditional chemical weed killers and lawn treatments can cause problems for our pets—something I unfortunately have first-hand experience with.
When my spouse and I took a pet-friendly vacation to Maine several years ago, our Cocker Spaniel developed a reaction after romping around the lush, green lawn of our bed and breakfast. Our dog Brady began vomiting and developed a prickly red rash across her stomach. I called a pet poison helpline and was told she likely suffered from chemical exposure and to seek veterinary care. She received IV fluids, a bath, a blood panel, and ointment for her chemical burns. It turns out, the property had used a chemical weed killer a few days before our arrival.
Since that time, I’ve been on a mission to inform other pet parents about the toxicity of certain weed killers and why pet-friendly products should be used in their place.
How Weed Killers Could Harm Pets
Integrative veterinarian Dr. Laurie Coger worries about glyphosate (a common herbicide) in weed killers. She says glyphosate is implicated in many cancers in both dogs and humans.
“Exposure to weed killers, specifically glyphosate, is one of the most overlooked toxins by most dog parents,” she advises. “The chemical is linked to lymphoma and other cancers in humans, and many suspect it could have similar effects in pets.”
In fact, a 6-year study conducted by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine found that the use of lawn chemicals increased a dog’s chance of developing cancer by up to 70 percent.
While homeowners may want to keep their lawns looking weed-free during the spring and summer months, using the wrong products to kill weeds could cause harm to four-legged family members.
“Common sense dictates that we minimize chemical exposure for ourselves and our pets,” Coger says. “Chemical weed killers are a potential danger to our dogs and outdoor cats.”
Roundup and Pets: Is it Safe?
Roundup is a popular weed killer and lawn treatment, but its main ingredient is isopropylamine salt of glyphosate. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup began selling the product in 1974. In 2015, the World Health Organization determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In 2019, a California couple won a $2 billion dollar lawsuit after they developed cancer linked to the use of Roundup weed killer. Although the judge cut the lawsuit to $86.7 million, the settlement was upheld.
Dogs like to roll on grass, many cats go for walks on a leash and their paws encounter grassy lawns, and pets often lick their feet or fur while they are lounging around the house. Any non-pet-friendly weed killers they encounter outside can be ingested into their bloodstream.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, pets that come in contact with wet glyphosate products may drool, have gastric upset, lose their appetites, or become sleepy—none of which are noted on the Roundup labeling or website.
If you do choose to use Roundup as your weed-killer of choice, it’s important to keep your dog away from the treated area and talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns.
What to Look For in a Pet-Safe Weed Killer
There are a few very important aspects to look for when selecting a pet-safe weed killer for your lawn. Here are a few points to consider:
Despite the label that touts a product as pet-safe and pet-friendly or perhaps natural or organic, pet parents should carefully read the ingredient list. Though chemicals can be effective at killing weeds, they can cause issues when pets are exposed to them. Corn gluten meal and vinegar are all-natural products that are generally safe for dogs and cats.
Things like 2,4-D (trimec), sethoxydim, carbon tetrachloride, and chloroform are all ingredients to avoid in a weed killer for pet households.
Look at labels and do some research to verify any governing bodies or organizations that certify weed killers safe for dogs and cats. For example, the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a private, nonprofit organization that certifies products as organic.
Prevention or Killer
Some products kill weeds while others prevent them. If your lawn is in good shape, look for a pet-friendly weed prevention product. If your lawn has a weed problem, a pet-friendly weed killer is the way to go.
Read a broad sample of reviews on the pet-safe weed killer or pet-friendly weed prevention product you’re interested in. How long do people say it took to work? Does it take hours, days, or weeks to see a difference? What weeds does it target? Not all weeds are created equal, as some products target dandelions, mosses, chickweed, and dollar weed, while others are explicitly designed to eliminate crabgrass.
How We Ranked Our Top Pet-Safe Weed Killers
In assembling this list, I’ve considered products I’ve used with success over the past decade. I looked at reviews, talked to an integrative veterinarian, talked to one of my best friends who has a green thumb to match her green pet-friendly lawn, and looked for a wide array of purported pet-friendly lawn products to kill weeds while keeping dogs and cats safe.
We also wanted to make sure that the pet-friendly weed killers on this list were easy to buy online and were effective without the need for a professional lawn-care service.
Our Favorite Pet-Friendly Weed Killers
If you plan to allow your dog or cat to roam around the yard and enjoy the great outdoors, one of these pet-safe weed killer products should be part of our lawn-care regimen.
Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Green Gobbler is OMRI certified for organic use and designed to use where grasses and weeds are not desired. I’ve personally used this product for years. The Green Gobbler formula is 30 percent stronger than traditional table vinegar and is safe to use right out of the container.
I love the removable trigger spray and the fact that it works almost immediately without bothering my dog’s paws or causing irritation. The fact that it is environmentally and pet safe and works like a charm without toxic chemicals puts Green Gobbler high atop our list.
- Derived from USA-grown corn.
- No dyes or chemicals.
- OMRI certified.
- Weeds start to wither within 24 hours.
- Nicely priced.
- Can be used for regular cleaning when diluted with water.
Things To Consider
- Use caution with surrounding plants, as it will affect them if contact is made.
- There is a strong vinegar smell, but it dissipates quickly.
- It is unclear what is used to dilute the vinegar in the actual product. Although it may be water, the information is not readily available.
Sample Buyer Review: “I have been fighting with weeds for three years in areas that have rocks in the yard from the previous owner and found the fabric below the rocks has rotted. This prevents granular and liquid weed control from reaching the dirt and only certain weeds died from contact on the leafy part of the plant. This vinegar destroys the weeds just from contact on the plant. I LOVE this stuff!!”
Natural Elements Weed Killer
I have a small yard and patio area with a deck and wanted to get rid of some weeds earlier this summer. Formulated with salt water and concentrated commercial grade vinegars, this product actually sticks to the weed and strips the coating so weeds are gone in about a day. Many other so-called pet-friendly weed killers take days to work, but Natural Elements really delivered on its fast-acting promise.
There is no mixing, no drifting (don’t spray on a windy day), and it’s best to use in warmer weather so the weeds are gone quicker. In cooler temperatures, it may take at least five days to see the weeds disappear. It is glyphosate-free and the label is very transparent about ingredients and safety.
- Effective on most broadleaf weeds and grasses.
- Easy to spray one-quart bottle.
- Some reviews claim it worked to kill poison ivy, but we didn’t try that.
- Great value for the price.
- Not as pungent in vinegar smell compared to some other products.
- Made in the USA.
Things To Consider
- Will kill grass so do not apply directly to lawns unless that is your intent.
- Not many reviews online but this product may just be “falling under the radar.”
- For larger areas or more frequent use, consider upgrading to the larger size.
Sample Buyer Review: “Keeps the weeds under control and saves time and effort with a quick spray. Great value for money.”
Preen Weed Preventer
One of my closest friends, who is also a dog mom, has been using this on her lawn and garden for years. It is safe to use around over 200 different types of established flowers, trees, shrubs, and even vegetables. This made our list because it actually prevents weeds and can be safely used around pets. It stops weeds before they start, and who doesn’t want to save some time and effort these days?!
Preen Weed Preventer is not washed out of the soil by rain and using it early means the need to hand weed is eliminated. Because it is made from corn gluten meal and does not contain glyphosate, it’s a win-win. My neighbor says she’s noticed her lawn to be a lot greener and that could be because the corn gluten meal works as a fertilizer, too.
- Stops weeds before they become problematic.
- Contains 60 percent protein compared to other weed preventers that contain significantly less. More protein = more effective.
- Safe around plants that are two to three inches tall.
- Prevents weeds from sprouting on the lawn if used multiple times per year.
Things To Consider
- It is on the pricier side.
- Some complain corn gluten-based weed killers are less effective, but remember that this is a weed preventer, designed to be used to prevent and not kill weeds.
- Do not confuse this product with Preen’s Grass and Weed Killer, which does contain glyphosate and is not safe for pets.
Sample Buyer Review: “I have used Preen Weed Preventer for many years around my yard, driveway, etc. The product does exactly what it says when used as directed. Never been disappointed with my results.”
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control
I am a huge fan of Wondercide products and use their flea and tick preventative on my dog. In addition to their spray-on-the-dog treatments, Wondercide also makes an outdoor pest control to kill and repel pests from a lawn. However, after reading that it stopped weeds in their tracks on another customer’s lawn, I decided to give it a try.
Because we recently added a patio to our backyard, I was able to test these products on a large area of grass before the contractors got to work. Oddly enough, when I sprayed Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control on weeds in the yard, they were gone a few weeks later. Granted, it didn’t work as fast as some products, but this was my own personal test. I love that this product is safe on grass for my dog to lay on, roll on, and walk on but effective in killing and repelling ticks and fleas while eliminating weeds!
- Enjoy a bug-free yard and possibly eliminate weeds.
- Safe around butterflies and bees.
- Great for lawns, patios, and landscapes.
- No harsh chemicals.
- Spray and play, as there is zero wait time after application.
- Made with cedar oil, sesame oil, seeds, and fruit in the USA.
Things to Consider
- Not touted as a weed controller, but it worked for me.
- Must be diluted and requires a separate applicator.
- Available in a variety of sizes, be certain to get the sprayer version for complete spraying application.
Sample Buyer Review: “I know you don’t advertise this as a feature, but I am thrilled to have this in my arsenal. I can now treat my weeds and allow my pets to use the yard. It also doesn’t seem to be affecting the plants I want in the yard at all. What a win!”
Eco Garden Pro Organic Weed Killer
This is the first pet-friendly weed killing product I encountered that combines organic white vinegar with Himalayan rock salt. The two ingredients work so well together that they kill weeds and prevent immediate regrowth. In addition to being safe around dogs and cats, the company touts it as safe for bees, fish, and other live stock.
In addition to weeds, it can kill moss, clover, and poison ivy and is 100 percent biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Since it contains no phosphates, it’s also safe for groundwater. If I could hug this bottle, I would because it is slowly becoming my new favorite.
- In addition to being safe around pets, the products on this list are touted as safe around kids, and Eco Garden is no exception.
- They only use pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that are sustainably sourced whenever possible.
- 100 percent satisfaction guarantee or your money back.
- Perfect for residential areas as well as commercial, industrial, and agricultural areas along with driveways, sidewalks, concrete, mulch beds, pavement, flowers beds, parking lots, and farm lands.
Things To Consider
- Some complain it takes too long to kill clover and dandelions.
- Some reviewers say weeds came back too fast.
- Complaints of strong smell but others say it goes away soon.
Sample Buyer Review: “I bought this to get rid of the dandelions in my backyard. It came premixed. I sprayed it in the afternoon and it worked overnight. I have a 2 years old Golden Retriever, it is nice not having to worry about him after spraying the yard.”
Which Pet-Safe Weed Killer Is Best?
I like each of the above pet-friendly weed killer products equally—but for different reasons. Never use all of them at one time and give each product enough time to dry and test before moving to another formula.
Despite the pet-safe and pet-friendly labeling, I never apply any product in the presence of my dog. Canine noses are sensitive and I wait until the products dry before allowing my pup to traipse, roll, walk, and play on the lawn.
When walking your dog, be careful about letting your dog walk in other people’s lawns, since you never know if chemical products were used.