Homeowners with yards to maintain go through multiple steps to keep their grass green and plants lush. Commonly, that means the application, or multiple applications, of fertilizers from spring to fall.
But fertilizers both organic and man-made can cause problems if ingested in significant quantities by our pets. Here are some questions your veterinarian will want to know if your pet has ingested fertilizer:
1. Was the fertilizer sprayed on as liquid or spread as granules? Liquid fertilizer that has dried or granules that have already been spread evenly pose little risk. A dog that eats a concentrated amount that might be left in a spray tank or spreader could be exposed to a more significant amount.
2. Is some other ingredient combined in the fertilizer? A rose bush fertilizer that contains an insecticide could cause severe problems if enough were eaten.
3. Are there additives to the fertilizer that can cause other problems? Some farm or agriculture fertilizers may have calcium derivatives or ammonia that could be responsible for health issues if ingested or they come in contact with skin or mucus membranes.
4. What types of plants were being fertilized? Autumn crocus is a plant that can cause serious problems if bulbs are eaten because a pet was attracted to the fertilizer added to the planting hole.
There is little risk for properly applied fertilizer, and pets may walk safely through a treated yard. But other circumstances, larger amounts and mixed products should prompt a call to your veterinarian or pet poison control center.
Remember to keep all packaging and know what plants you are treating to help get the right advice and proper treatment if necessary.
Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.