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Top Three Summer Lawn Hazards for Dogs

By Roxanne Hawn

Summer Lawn Dangers for Pets

Even though spring came late to many parts of the United States this year, summer will be upon us before we know it. The great outdoors is indeed great, yet sometimes our best intentions lead to injury or illness in dogs. Watch for these hazards this summer – in your yard and in others.

Metal Lawn Edging

People often use edging, when landscaping their yards, 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 (rounded plastic lawn edging or stone / concrete edging work well.)

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.

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.

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, so in cases where dogs – who’ll eat anything – might be prone to accidentally poisoning themselves, I say skip it.


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.

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