Are weed sprays safe to use if you have pets?

Are weed sprays safe to use if you have pets?

There are various herbicides, commonly known as weed sprays or weed killers, readily available on the market. The active constituents as well as their concentrations can vary widely between products. Perhaps the most common herbicide encountered in Australia and New Zealand is glyphosate, a non-selective herbicide. There are also a range of selective herbicides (such as MCPA, dicamba and bromoxynil combinations) which are designed to kills weeds but not your lawn, and ‘natural’ herbicides (such as acetic acid and sodium chloride solutions).

Herbicides that are available for domestic use are generally considered safe to use on properties with pets, as long as a few safety measures are observed as follows:

1. Keep pets away from the treated area whilst spraying and until the area is thoroughly dried. The time taken for the area to dry will vary depending on local weather conditions.

2. Avoid purchasing concentrated products that require dilution with water prior to spraying. Inadvertent ingestion of concentrated herbicides by companion animals can result in life-threatening poisoning, and therefore it is safest to never have these around a house with pets. Ready to use products are far more dilute and are therefore considered safer alternatives if a pet ever gets access to such containers.

3. If you are using a concentrate that requires dilution before spraying, always follow the instructions in terms of appropriate dilution and keep your pet away whilst measuring and mixing.

4. Ensure all herbicide products are stored safely, well out of reach of companion animals. Be aware that cats can jump onto high surfaces and knock products over. They may walk through spilt puddles and then groom chemicals off their paws or coat.

If a pet licks or chews on weeds or surfaces that have recently been sprayed with diluted products, they may develop mild gastrointestinal upset. More serious effects are not anticipated from an acute exposure to the vast majority of herbicides that are available for domestic use in Australia and New Zealand.

☎ If your pet has been exposed to a herbicide or any other pesticide, please phone the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU)
or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice. We can assess your pet’s exposure and determine if they will be at risk of poisoning and if they require urgent veterinary assessment.

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This post has been gratefully sponsored by a grant from Animal Welfare Victoria.