Maybe you want to be the home with the best lawn on the block. Maybe you’re trying to grow an amazing vegetable garden to feed your family a healthy diet. Perhaps you have a flower bed where you like to grow seasonal bulbs.
No matter what type of lawn or garden you have, one thing is inevitable:
From dandelions to thistle to crabgrass, weeds have a way of popping up everywhere we don’t want them to be. And while there are plenty of fast-acting weed killers on the market, many are full of harsh chemicals. And those harsh chemicals can be deadly to pets.
If you have pets that play on your lawn or in your garden, be sure to buy a weed killer that’s made with them in mind. Here are fourteen pet friendly weed killers that will destroy weeds on contact and keep your furry friend safe.
Why Is Weed Killer Harmful to Pets?
Walk through the garden aisle of any home improvement store, and you’ll see dozens of different weed-killing products. Most of them are effective, but most of them aren’t made with the safety of cats and dogs in mind. If you have pets, steer clear of chemical weed killers at all costs.
Many herbicides and pesticides, both of which can be used to kill weeds, are loaded with toxic chemicals.
Most weed killers, such as the popular brand Roundup, contain glyphosate as their active ingredient. Glyphosate is a carcinogen that can cause liver and kidney disease, and exposure to it can even increase your chances for cancer.
Not only is glyphosate harmful to pets, but it’s dangerous to humans as well! It’s not safe for children, adults or animals, so it’s always best to avoid weed killers with glyphosate and opt for a more natural product instead.
Things to Look For in a Weed Killer
If you’re on the hunt for a pet-friendly weed killer, the most important thing is to check the label to make sure it’s made from all-natural ingredients.
It’s also important to know what type of weeds the product can kill. Some formulas are designed to target specific types of weeds, while others can kill dozens or hundreds of different types. Be sure to check the label to make sure that the product you’re buying can destroy the type of weeds in your garden.
One other thing to consider is if the product needs to be mixed or diluted prior to use. Most weed killers are ready to use immediately, but some are concentrated and require mixing and diluting with water. You can save yourself some time by buying one that’s in a spray bottle, ready to use!
Ready to eradicate those unsightly weeds once and for all? Here are fourteen pet-friendly weed killers to try on your lawn and garden:
As the name suggests, the Just For Pets Weed Killer Spray is pet-safe. It’s also effective on a variety of different types of weeds.
It doesn’t require any mixing, and there’s no need to dilute it with water. Just spray it on your weeds, and you’re done!
This product is known to eliminate weeds quickly – but that’s only one reason to love it. The other reason is that a portion of every sale is donated to animal shelters around the country. With this weed killer, you can protect your pets and help to save others!
If it’s a weed-free lawn you want, the Energen Carolina Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer is a great pet-friendly option. As the name suggests, the active ingredient in this product is – you guessed it – vinegar!
This weed killer is great at destroying clovers, dandelions, ivy, and crabgrass. It’s non-selective, so it has the ability to kill a variety of different weeds and grasses, making it best for use on sidewalks, concrete and other hardscape areas. Don’t spray it on grass unless you’re trying to kill your grass.
As far as pet-friendly weed killers go, Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer has some of the best online reviews.
This biodegradable product is made from 20% acetic acid (aka vinegar and water) plus ethanol distilled from corn grain. It doesn’t include any harsh or toxic chemicals, it’s certified for organic use and – most importantly – it works.
Like all of the other products on this list, it’s always recommended that you let it dry before allowing pets to touch or play in the treated areas.
The Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed & Grass Killer is a pet-safe weed killer designed to work quickly.
Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale, chooses this product for his home. “This eco-friendly weed killer is made with ocean salt water, commercial strength food grade vinegar, and soap. It doesn’t require any mixing, it doesn’t include any hormone-disrupting chemicals, and people and pets can enter the treated area as soon as the solution is dry.”
This non-selective weed killer is perfect for use on driveway cracks, sidewalks and other hardscape features. The simple and natural ingredients make it pet-friendly as well as kid-friendly. It doesn’t require any mixing or diluting, it’s quick-acting and it’s made in the USA.
Keep your flower beds, curbs and walkways weed-free with Natural Armor Weed & Grass Killer. Made with natural ingredients, this fast-acting weed killer can produce results within a matter of a few hours.
It’s made with acetic acid, citrus, essential oils, sodium and glycerin, and it works on over 250 different types of weed and grass. No matter what kind of weeds you have, this product can destroy them.
If for some reason it doesn’t work, Natural Armor offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Looking for a budget-friendly weed control product that offers quick results? Check out Natural Elements Weed Killer.
This vinegar-based solution is made from all-natural ingredients, making it safe for pets and children. Just know that it’s powerful enough to kill grass, so be sure to spray it directly on weeds; otherwise, you could accidentally kill your grass in the process.
Natural Elements Weed Killer doesn’t need to be mixed – all you have to do is start spraying.
You can kill over 250 different types of weeds with the Organic Matters Natural Weed Killer Spray. This organic weed killer is made from all-natural ingredients, so it won’t harm your pets or any of the birds or insects that spend time in your garden either.
This product comes with a sprayer to convert it to a spray bottle. It’s fast-acting, effective and designed to dry quickly, so you can let your pets play outside shortly after spraying it on your lawn.
If you’d rather be proactive than reactive, you might consider purchasing a pet-safe weed preventer rather than a pet-safe weed killer.
This option from Preen is 100% natural and is made from just one ingredient: corn gluten meal. While you might think that there’s no way for such a simple solution to be effective, you may just be surprised. Reviewers on Amazon report that the product is great for keeping weeds away without harming the plants you actually want to grow, making it ideal for use in gardens. Some even report using it when specifically growing pet-intended plants (like catnip for cats) and appreciate that it’s a pet-friendly solution that has no chance of harming your beloved fur baby.
The weed preventer must be spread by hand and can be used on new plants up to two to three inches tall, up to the point of harvest. In addition to being used in gardens and flower beds, it can also be used on ground cover and around trees or shrubs, where it remains effective for up to six weeks.
This eco-friendly, biodegradable weed killer is made from salt and vinegar. It’s suitable for killing not just weeds, but also moss, poison ivy and clover if needed. In addition to being safe for pets, it’s also safe for use around fish, bees, kids and livestock. You can use it just about anywhere — your driveway or sidewalk, flower garden, veggie garden, parking lot, you name it, without worrying about groundwater contamination.
The liquid weed killer comes in a gallon jug and needs to be added to a sprayer (which you’ll have to purchase separately) before application. Once applied, the weed killer starts killing within 24 hours.
While this product is technically touted as an all-natural insecticide that kills, repels and prevents mosquitoes, ants, fleas and ticks, reviewers report that the spray kills weeds, too. So, if you’re looking for a pet-safe herbicide and insecticide, you might want to consider this option.
It comes in a spray bottle, so all you need to do is attach your water hose and spray away. One bottle treats up to 5,000 square feet of yard space and the formula — which includes cedar oil, sesame oil and other natural ingredients — is safe for use on lawns, patios, vegetable and flower gardens, playgrounds and more.
While you can use household vinegar to attempt to kill the weeds in your yard, you may have more luck with this extra-strong option. Harris’s vinegar weed killer is made from 20% extra-strength vinegar (which is about four times the strength of household vinegar) and 80% water — and that’s literally it. If you’re looking for something extra-simple, you’ve found it.
You can buy this weed killer in an easy-to-use, small, quart-sized spray bottle, or in a large gallon jug that comes equipped with a spray top.
Suitable for organic gardening, this weed and grass killer is known for killing even the most stubborn crabgrass, dandelions and other types of weeds. Do note, though, that it’ll kill everything it touches, so it’s best for use only in areas where you don’t want grass, weeds or anything else growing.
The fast-acting solution shows results in as little as 24 hours. The primary ingredient is ammonium nonanoate, though, so for this reason, you won’t want your pet to be around the treated areas until they dry; however, ammonium nonanoate is not considered a toxic chemical, just potentially irritating.
This non-selective weed killer kills everything, but the iron-based formula is a nice alternative if you don’t want to go with a vinegar-based solution. The Captain Jack’s LawnWeed Brew Herbicide formula works within hours after application and in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The formula is also waterproof after drying, so you won’t need to worry about it washing away.
Dr. Earth’s weed and grass killer, which comes in a handy, small bottle that’s easier to use for those who only want to treat a small area and not their entire yard, is made from a mixture of essential oils. Clove, cinnamon, rosemary and thyme come together to kill everything (or at least every plant) in their path. Once the solution dries, it’s safe for pets and kids alike.
While this isn’t a weed killer, per se, it is a weed preventer, so it may do the trick for your lawn if you’re not necessarily worried about killing current weeds and just want to keep your lawn looking lush in the summer months.
The weed preventer is made from corn gluten meal, which means it’s totally safe for kids and pets, even right after application. You just add the formula to your lawn twice each year, in the spring and the fall, and it keeps your lawn looking better, longer, and weed-free.
The weed preventer comes in 25-pound bags, available on Amazon, and one bag is enough to treat approximately 1,250 square feet of lawn.
This weed killer comes in a spray bottle and is ready to go, killing more than 200 types of weeds without endangering your lawn or pet. The killer starts working in just about an hour and, after that hour, becomes waterproof for long-lasting effects regardless of the weather.
One bottle will treat up to 5,000 square feet of lawn and is safe for use on most northern grasses. That said, there are some types of grasses that the weed killer is not suitable for, so be sure to read all the usage warnings ahead of time — or you might just end up killing your entire lawn, not just the weeds.
This organic weed killer comes in a 24-ounce spray bottle and starts to kill weeds on contact, showing dramatic results in as little as 24 hours. The formula becomes waterproof in less than an hour, and it kills more than 200 different types of grasses and broadleaf weeds.
Because the formula is non-synthetic, organic and all-natural, you can use it around both pets and children. The formula even smells decent, with an aroma similar to cinnamon.
The one downside? This is a contact weed killer that’s best used on weeds that pop up in smaller areas, like around walkways or driveways, so it might not be a good fit if you’re trying to treat an entire, large lawn.
This selective weed killer comes in a large, one-gallon spray bottle and will kill your pesky weeds, not your lawn. With an iron-derived, natural ingredients formula, the solution turns weeds brown and then kills them to the root. It can also be used to kill moss.
As soon as the weed killer dries, your lawn is safe for both people and pets.
Other Weed Control Solutions for Pet Owners
If none of the above pet-safe weed killer options look right for your needs, you can find other ways to keep your lawn and garden looking pristine without ever setting foot in your local home and garden store.
Skip the Spray and Weed by Hand!
The best pet-friendly weed killer isn’t a weed killer at all – it’s something you already and never have to buy. Instead of arming yourself with a sprayer, we suggest killing your weeds the old fashioned way – by pulling them by hand.
Some people think that weeding by hand is an unnecessary, time-consuming chore. But if you keep up with it regularly, it should only take you a few minutes here and there to get the job done.
Prevent Weeds With Mulch
Instead of trying to kill weeds, you might want to try preventing them instead.
One of the most effective weed preventers that exist is mulch.
Mulch allows you to water your plants and garden less frequently, it can improve your soil’s quality and it puts the perfect finishing touch on flower beds and vegetable gardens. But it’s also a way to stave off weeds.
Weeds will still grow below, but a thick layer of mulch will prevent them from sprouting up. A few may pop up here and there, but they won’t be nearly as noticeable.
The next time you weed your garden beds by hand, spread some mulch around to keep those pesky weeds in the soil where you can’t see them.
Boil the Weeds Away
One of the simplest DIY methods for killing weeds (or anything else you don’t want growing on your lawn or on your sidewalk or driveway)? Boil some water and then pour it onto the area of concern.
Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love says this method is one of his favorites. “Using boiling water to kill weeds is one of the easiest tried-and-true methods. You don’t have to go out and buy special weed-killing spray, and you don’t have to worry about using harsh chemicals that might potentially harm your roaming pets or wildlife. However, since boiling water can successfully kill weeds down to the root, you want to make sure that you are only using this method on weeds that are not intermixed or even near
other plants (that you want to keep alive). The boiling water will impact all of the plants and roots that it touches.”
So, keep in mind that this solution is best suited for killing those stray weeds that pop up around your patio but may not be the best solution in the middle of your yard.
Spray a Little Vinegar
You’ll see that many of our pet-friendly products listed above use vinegar as a primary ingredient, and for good reason. Vinegar will kill weeds easily (as well as other, non-weedy plants). The good news is, you likely already have vinegar in your pantry, so you can simply add your vinegar to a spray bottle and start spritzing.
Spray on the Salt
Salt is also a useful weed killer. Dissolve salt in water at a ratio of about 1 part salt for 3 parts water, and add the mixture to your spray bottle for an easy solution that’s also incredibly cheap.
Try Some Landscape Fabric
If you’re particularly worried about weeds popping up around your garden or landscaping, you might want to consider adding some landscape fabric to that garden. The landscape fabric will blend into your plants and keep weeds from popping up.
Landscape fabric is easy to apply and often very affordable at any lawn care or big-box store. When you’re ready to re-do your landscaping and remove the fabric, all you have to do is pull it up.
Like salt, you can also pour sugar at the base of any undesirable plants or weeds. However, also like salt, do note that this method can result in the affected soil not being suitable for future use, so sprinkle your sugar sparingly.
Clove oil not only kills weeds, but it also smells great and repels pests, wildlife and rodents. Clove oil does kill some types of grass, so this isn’t a solution that you’d want to use all over your lawn, but it is one you can use in flower beds (though you might not want to go at the vegetable garden with it, as the aroma can be quiet strong, and plants in containers might not be able to handle the oil’s strength, either).
To use clove oil to kill undesirable weeds, just mix about 10-20 drops of clove oil with two cups of hot water in a spray bottle and then spray it around your flower beds as needed.
While clove oil is an all-natural weed killer, it’s not safe for pets, so you won’t want to let them around the treated area until the solution has washed away. Despite this, clove oil is still a better solution than traditional herbicides that can stick around for a long while, posing a threat to your pets all season long.
Don’t like the scent of cloves? Go for a similar solution with lemon oil. Just mix 10 drops of lemon essential oil with a cup of water and a cup of white vinegar, and then spray it from a spray bottle on any weeds.
This is a pretty strong combination, so don’t spray it where you don’t want a plant to die; this remedy doesn’t discriminate. Additionally, if you do use this solution to kill weeds, you’ll want to wait a while before you plant anything in their place. Let the rain wash all the residual oil from the soil.
Unlike clove essential oil, lemon essential oil is safe to use around dogs, so long as it’s diluted (as it would be when making the prescribed solution above). Just make sure to keep the undiluted bottle of oil out of reach of pets and children.
Baking soda targets weeds without killing your other plants, making it a great option if you don’t want to damage the surrounding plants or soil. Just sprinkle the baking soda atop the weeds and let it set.
If you already perused our list of favorite pet-friendly weed killers above, then you already know that some of the listed weed preventers contain cornmeal as their active ingredient. You can make a paired-down version of this weed preventer at home by just adding cornmeal to your soil. Grab some cornmeal from the pantry and sprinkle it wherever you frequently see weeds popping up in your lawn come summer.
There are some plants that actually help to prevent weeds from growing in their vicinity by releasing chemicals from either their leaves or roots. There is a large number of allelopathic plants that you might already have in your lawn, but consider adding a few more of these plants to your landscaping for greater results. Of course, always be sure to check the potential toxicity of any new plant purchase before adding it to your yard or garden.
Practice Proper Lawn Health
Sometimes, preventing and getting rid of weeds starts with taking care of your lawn’s health in more natural, non-toxic ways. For example, you may need to aerate your lawn, allowing for healthy grass to grow and develop; if your lawn is currently compacted, healthy grass can die, and hardier weeds can take over. Rent an aerator at your nearest hardware store and give your lawn new life.
You may also need to help healthy grass grow (and fewer weeds grow!) by trimming back trees that are blocking your grass from getting the right amount of sunlight or by adjusting your watering habits. If your lawn isn’t naturally getting an inch or so of water weekly, you may need to water it by hand.
You can also prevent weed growth and promote healthy grass growth by changing your mowing settings; go for a higher blade setting that will allow grass to thrive.
Just Don’t Weed
Lastly, have you considered just … not weeding? Keeping your lawn weedy can mean good things for the environment.
For example, certain weeds, like dandelions and clover, can attract pollinators — which is great for the environment, as well as any other flowering or vegetable plants you may have in your yard. While your first thought might be that you don’t want to attract any more bugs to your home, these pollinators are usually butterflies, bees, ladybugs and other insects that can help the environment thrive while also killing other less desirable bugs in the area.
Additionally, weedy lawns pose less of a risk to the environment and to your health. If you’re not spraying chemicals of any type onto your lawn, they’re not going into the local water system, into the air or into your and your pets’ bodies.
All that said, some weeds do pose a threat to your pets, too, just like pesticides will. Prevent your pets from chowing down on any plant life for your best chances of keeping them safe.
Other Lurking Lawn Dangers
But it isn’t just weed killer that poses a risk to your pets. If you’re welcoming a new pet into your home or just overhauling your lawn care strategies, and you want to ensure your yard is as safe as possible for Fido, look for these other potential dangers as well.
Sure, you may know that you shouldn’t eat just anything growing in your yard or garden beds, but does your dog or cat feel the same way? They may see a toxic flower and think it looks pretty delicious.
To avoid pricey vet bills following the accidental ingestion of your prized plants, either keep a very close eye on your pets at all times that they’re in the yard or simply plant only non-toxic plants in your yard and garden.
Before planting anything new, research the plant’s toxicity (and not just to humans, but specifically to dogs and cats). Likewise, look around your yard and identify your current plants, bushes and trees, and determine if they pose a threat and, if so, how severe, as well as what it takes to remove that threat from your yard. Removing all the ivy from the side of your home might be pretty pricey, and instead of removing this threat from your dog or cat’s life, you might just want to simply fence off that area of the yard.
Don’t think there’s anything in your veggie garden that could possibly be toxic? Think again. Human-friendly ingredients like onions, garlic and chives can spell disaster for Fido.
Other killers and deterrents
Just like traditional weed killer is meant to kill one thing, but can also kill a lot of other things (like dogs and cats) in the process, so can other pest killers and deterrents. From insecticides to pest control chemicals, if it can harm one animal, it can harm another, so keep it away from your pets. If at all possible, use pet-friendly or all-natural options to deter pests or insects.
While mulch is a good option for keeping weeds away from your plants, it’s important to use a non-toxic option if you’ll be using it around pets. Otherwise, your mulch could house all sorts of dangers, from mold to pesticide residue.
While composting bins are a great way to make your household more environmentally friendly, they do pose a risk to your pet if your dog or cat decides to go exploring for a tasty treat. Just like you keep your garbage bins away from your pets, do the same with your compost pile by keeping it in a secure location that animals can’t access.
Mushrooms pop up in yards around the country on the regular, and most homeowners barely give them a second thought. However, you want to be sure that any mushrooms are kept well out of reach of your dogs or cats, which could mean removing them as soon as they grow. If your pet consumes one, it can experience all sorts of nasty side effects ranging in severity from mild discomfort to death.
Pet-Safe Weed Killers FAQs
Have more questions? We’ve got answers.
What harmful ingredients should I watch out for in a weed killer?
If you’re not shopping specifically for a weed killer that’s branded as safe for use around pets, there are a few harmful ingredients you can watch out for in other products, that you may want to avoid if you do have pets frequently around the area where you intend to apply that product.
Glyphosate is one of the most harmful weed killer ingredients and the main ingredient in most popular weed killers. Unfortunately, glyphosate is a carcinogen.
Trimec is another popular weed-killer ingredient. It is considered safe for both pets and children if used as directed, but you will have to keep pets and children away from the wet liquid for a few hours after application. When wet, the ingredient is still considered harmful. If this is a worry for you, you’ll want to avoid trimec in your chosen weed killer.
Lastly, sethoxydim is considered “slightly toxic” if ingested and irritating if touched. It can cause skin and eye irritation and inhalation can cause throat and nose irritation.
For the safest options for your pets and overall family, avoid weed killers and other products that contain any of the above.
How long should I keep my pets away from weed killers?
Look for information on your chosen product’s safety label. That should tell you approximately how long you should keep your pet away from the area where you used the product. Err on the longer side of things, just to be safe. Additionally, keep your pet out of the area (preferably indoors) when you’re actually applying the weed killer.
Can my pet be harmed by my neighbor’s weed killer?
Unfortunately, yes. While you may choose not to use any chemical-laden weed killers in your yard — or even any weed killers at all — if your neighbors choose to do so, your pet can still be at risk.
If you’re worried about this, talk to your neighbor and ask them if there’s any way they might consider a pet-friendly herbicide. If they’re not open to that or you don’t feel comfortable making this ask, you can instead ask them to notify you when they’ll be applying their herbicides, so you can keep your pets indoors at this time (preventing any exposure caused by wind, etc.). You can also make sure to keep your pet away from their property during walks or playdates.
What are the symptoms of weed killer poisoning?
If you suspect your pup may have gotten into some weed killer, no matter the amount, you may want to watch for a few symptoms that indicate a need for urgent medical care.
Look for excessive drooling, skin irritation, gastrointestinal upset, loss of appetite, tiredness or, in extreme cases, seizure-like movements. If you notice any of these, call the ASPCA animal poison control center at 888 426 4435 or call your local vet immediately.
Are pet-safe weed killers really safe for my dog?
It’s worth noting that, even if a product says it’s “pet safe” that doesn’t necessarily mean that it absolutely cannot harm your dog in any way. Anything can be harmful in the right quantities.
So, even if you’re using a pet-safe weed killer, keep it away from your dog, where they can’t easily access it, and don’t allow them to roll around in the grass until the killer has thoroughly dried. As always, make sure to read a product’s full safety instructions and cautions, to ensure proper usage.
Are pet-friendly weed killers as effective?
Unfortunately, no. You can’t really beat the effectiveness of a chemical-heavy weed killer. However, those weed killers come with lots of risks, not only to your pets, but your family as well.
As you decide whether you want to go with a pet-friendly or a potentially toxic weed killer, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons. While pet-friendly weed killers are safer, they also aren’t great at killing weeds long-term, can stain concrete or other surfaces, and may kill other plants around your weeds, such as grass, flowers or vegetables, depending on the solution used.
How Can You Kill Weeds Without Harming Your Pets?
There are plenty of ways to get rid of weeds and unwanted plants without having to use harsh chemicals that can harm your pets.
From vinegar-based solutions to the old-fashioned method of pulling weeds by hand, there’s no reason to jeopardize the health of your pets, yourself or your children by using weed killers loaded with chemicals.
There are plenty of natural, organic and biodegradable products on the market. With the right stuff, you can keep your loved ones safe and make your lawn and garden look better than ever!
You might also be interested in: 13 Of The Best Dog Proof Trash Cans [For Any Style Of Home]
The 18 Best Pet-Friendly Weed Killers:
- Just For Pets Weed Killer Spray
- Energen Carolina Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
- Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
- Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed & Grass Killer
- Natural Armor Weed & Grass Killer
- Natural Elements Weed Killer
- Organic Matters Natural Weed Killer Spray
- Preen Weed Preventer
- ECO Garden Pro
- Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control
- Harris 20% Vinegar Weed Killer
- BioSafe Systems 7601-1 Weed and Grass Killer
- Captain Jack’s LawnWeed Brew Herbicide
- Dr. Earth Final Stop Organic Gardening Weed & Grass Killer
- Espoma Organic Weed Preventer
- Ortho WeedClear Lawn Weed Killer
- PureGro Weed Crush Organic Herbicide
- Clean Green Selective Weed Killer
Holly Riddleview post
Holly Riddle is a travel, food and lifestyle writer, and a full-time freelance content creator after several years on editorial staffs for a multitude of publications ranging in topic and audience demographic. She currently acts as the editor at large for Global Traveler magazine and is a regular contributor at Trazee Travel, WhereverFamily, TravelMag, CruiseHive and more. Ghostwritten work for travel clients has appeared on Forbes, Bloomberg, Inc. and other top publications. She also manages blogs for tour providers, hotels and tourism boards.view post