Lawn Hazards for Dogs

Holiday & seasonal
golden retriever playing with ball on lawn

Summertime brings dog owners the long-awaited dream of walks, beach days, and relaxing in the yard. The great outdoors is indeed great, but sometimes our best intentions lead to injury or illness in dogs. Watch for these hazards this summer – in your yard and others' yards.

Metal Lawn Edging

When landscaping yards, people often use edging to keep mulch from wandering or to define one yard space from another. It’s a great idea as long as that edging isn’t made of metal. You see, like gigantic razor blades in the grass, metal lawn edging poses significant danger to pets – even if it’s powder coated.

In a study published in 2010 in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 85% of the dogs in the study required surgical repairs of their paw and limb injuries from metal edging. Among those needing surgery, 18% required extensive repairs to skin, muscle, and connective tissues.

Instead, try rounded plastic lawn edging or stone/concrete edging.

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

In 2012 and 2013, two studies reported associations between lawn and garden chemicals and cancer in dogs.

Canine Malignant Lymphoma: Even after adjustments for age and weight of the dog, the use of specific lawn care products was associated with a greater risk of canine malignant lymphoma. The risk was highest – 70% higher risk – for products applied by professional lawn care companies. The study also reports a higher risk when families applied insect growth regulators at home.

Bladder Cancer: Exposure to herbicide-treated lawns has been associated with significantly higher bladder cancer risks in dogs. This study looked for and found evidence of home lawn chemicals in dogs’ urine – calling it “widespread.” Researchers found lawn chemicals in canine urine both before lawn chemical application and in dogs living in homes where no lawn chemicals were applied. Lawn chemicals persist on the grass for at least 48 hours after application – sometimes longer under certain lawn and weather conditions.

Cocoa Bean Mulch

An early case report of a dog dying from cocoa bean mulch was published back in 1984. Since then, there have been dire warnings and debates on whether it’s a common risk to dogs or not. However, many suggest not allowing your dog to eat any kind of mulch due to the perceived risk.

Personally, I say better safe than sorry. Why would you use something in your yard that a dog might perceive as food, if that product was a known toxin to pets?

I know dogs who’ve died from eating regular wood-chip mulch. In cases where dogs who eat anything, I say skip it altogether.


Mushrooms are a great addition to a dinner – if you’re human. However, many types of mushrooms found in the wild (such as your yard or on a hike) can be very dangerous for your pet to digest.

If you notice your dog snacking on a mushroom and suspect possible mushroom poisoning, seek veterinary attention immediately. Also, bring the suspected mushroom with you so that it can be easier identified.

Embraced pup, Walter, was caught eating mushrooms in his backyard when his mom noticed he was acting strange and vomiting. With Embrace there to help, his owners could make the best decision for Walter, rather than their wallets.


We’ve all seen toads and frogs hoping around on a humid summer night. Yet, many owners do not realize that specific types of toads can be toxic to dogs.

Toads of the genus Bufo live in many parts of the world and dogs that are exposed to these poisonous toads suffer toxicity every year. Toads can envenomate toxins via their skin glands which covers their body in a protective film. When prey-driven dogs spot one and clamp down, they can be exposed to the nasty film. The toxicity can range from gastrointestinal issues, neurotoxicity, and cardiotoxicity within minutes of being in contact with the toad.

Embrace’s insured French Bulldog, Maddy, had a run-in with one of these toxic toads while on a walk with her mom that landed her a seven day hospital stay.

To learn more about the symptoms, treatments, and prevention check out our Bufo Toad Envenomation article.

Pest Repellents and Baits

There are many pests that homeowners want away from their lawn, so they lay traps or pest repellants. However, few know the danger surrounding some of these methods. The most common pests seem to be rats, snails, flies, moles, and gophers. Learn more about some of the common pesticides that are dangerous to pets.


Rodenticide toxicity is a very common issue for pets. Homeowners plant rat traps that use a variety of highly toxic compounds. Not only is this dangerous to your dog, but the wildlife you share your yard with.

Four common types of rodenticide are:

  1. Zinc, calcium, & aluminum phosphides

  2. Bromethalin

  3. Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)

  4. Anticoagulants

Snail Bait (aka Molluscicides)

Molluscicides are used to repel or kill unwelcome snails. Metaldehyde is used commonly as a molluscicide. While we don't know the exact mechanism of action, onset of clinical signs in pets are typically within 30 minutes to 3 hours. Toxicosis symptoms include increased heart rate, nervousness, panting, drooling, wobbliness, and seizures. Owners should seek emergency medical attention.

Fly Bait

Methomyl is a highly toxic insecticide that can be found in fly baits. It can cause many dangerous side effects such as increased salivation, tearing, urinary incontinence, diarrhea, gastrointestinal cramping, and vomiting. Central Nervous System effects may include stupor, coma, and seizures. The usual cause of death is respiratory failure.

Mole and Gopher Bait

Zinc phosphide is used in mole and gopher baits and is highly toxic. The metabolized ingredient causes severe respiratory distress in practically no time. Clinical signs are seen soon after ingestion, typically within 15 minutes to 4 hours. Death occurs secondary to respiratory failure.


Duffy AL, Hackett TB, Canine pedal injury resulting from metal landscape edging, J Vet Emerg Crit Care, 2010 Oct; 20(5):533-6.

Takashima-Uebelhoer B, Barber LG, Zagarins SE, Procter-Gray E, Gollenberg, AL, Moore AS, Bertone-Johnson ER, Household Chemical Exposures and the Risk of Canine Malignant Lymphoma, a Model for Human Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, J Environ Res, 2012 January; 112:171-176.

Knapp DW, Peer WA, Conteh A, Diggs AR, Cooper BR, Glickman NW, Bonney PL, Stewart JC, Glickman LT, Murphy AS, Detection of herbicides in the urine of pet dogs following home lawn chemical application, Science of The Total Environment, 2013 July, 456–457:34-41.

Drolet R, Arendt TD, Stowe CM, Cacao bean shell poisoning in a dog, J Am Vet Med Assoc, 1984 Oct 15: 185(8):902.