Landscaping requires special care for families with four-footers, as many lawn and garden items are dangerous to pets.
Luckily, having a nice yard and a happy, healthy pup is possible if you select the right products and use them safely. Today, we’ll focus on one particularly dangerous lawn product – lawn fertilizer.
We’ll share some of the best dog-safe fertilizers and provide some general tips for keeping your pup safe around lawn and garden products.
Quick Picks: Best Dog-Safe Fertilizers
Is Fertilizer Dangerous for Dogs?
Fertilizer is usually low risk around dogs unless large quantities are ingested. Most cases of ingestion result in gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting or diarrhea.
However, the risk increases substantially with small breeds and puppies, as their little bodies can only handle so much.
With that in mind, whether they’re pet-friendly or not, all fertilizers can be dangerous if stored incorrectly.
Furthermore, like other lawn care products, many fertilizers contain added substances that can be incredibly dangerous for dogs, risking your dog’s health and safety if he even runs across a freshly treated area.
So, only select pet-friendly fertilizers to prevent injury or illness and follow the manufacturer’s directions closely.
Dog-Safe Products Still Warrant Caution
Your pup can be sickened by eating any fertilizer, dog-friendly or not, especially if he eats a significant amount. Since manufacturers don’t disclose every ingredient for us to investigate, we can’t guarantee that ANY of today’s picks will be completely safe, despite bearing a pet-friendly label.
It’s always best to keep your canine clear of the area as your lawn absorbs fertilizer and to store products far out of your dog’s (and children’s) reach, preferably in a locking cabinet.
The 7 Best Dog-Safe Fertilizers
Now that we know the dangers of yard care products and how to mitigate them, we can dig into the best dog-safe fertilizers available. See if any of these items match your needs.
1. Scotts Natural Lawn Food
About: Pet parents go gaga for Scotts Natural Lawn Food, a pet-friendly fertilizer containing natural ingredients to nourish your grass, including nitrogen, calcium, and phosphate. It doesn’t have a strong odor, either, letting you enjoy your yard without the stench some other products leave behind.
- According to the manufacturer, it’s safe for people and pets to walk on right after applying
- Each 29-pound bag covers about 4000 square feet of lawn
- Can be applied during any season to any type of grass
- OMRI-listed for organic use
- Nitrogen: 11%
- Phosphate: 2%
- Potassium: 2%
- Calcium: 1.5%
- Sulfur: 1%
- No liquids to worry about drying; all you need to do is spread it on your lawn
- Many owners report excellent results in grass growth and appearance
- Affordable pricing, considering how much coverage each bag offers
- You’ll need a spreader to apply it
- The scent spurred some doggos to dig
2. Sunday Lawn Kickstart
About: Give your yard’s greenery a boost with Sunday Lawn Kickstart, a liquid fertilizer containing a natural combination of iron, potassium, and nitrogen. Fasten your hose to the bag, spray it over your lawn, and wait for it to dry thoroughly before letting your pup play.
- Doesn’t contain any pesticides
- Each 42.3-ounce package covers up to 5000 feet of lawn
- Apply to growing grass in the spring
- Can be used every 4 to 6 weeks
- Nitrogen: 22%
- Potassium: 2%
- Iron: 0.2%
- Safe to use on lawns frequented by pets and kids (just let it dry thoroughly first)
- Pricing is super affordable
- There are no granules to worry about sticking to shoes or blowing around
- You’ll need a hose to apply
- Some owners didn’t notice a remarkable improvement in lawn appearance
3. Greenview Turf Nurture
About: Greenview Turf Nurture is a lawn repair product that’s safe to use around children and pets when applied using the manufacturer’s directions. Its natural formula packs a punch of long-term nourishment with its mix of slow-release nitrogen, calcium, and magnesium, helping your lawn heal from any backyard barker antics.
- Each 8-pound bag covers roughly 2,500 square feet of lawn
- Can be applied during the spring, summer, or fall to any grass type
- For best results, the manufacturer advises watering the lawn after application
- Promotes root growth, strengthening your lawn against future damage
- Nitrogen: 15%
- Potassium: 7%
- Sulfur: 2.8%
- Calcium: 1%
- Magnesium: 0.5%
- Most owners are satisfied with how well this product works at repairing lawns (including those damaged by doggos!)
- We couldn’t find reports of any pet-related problems
- Pricing isn’t too bad
- Needs to be applied using a spreader and then watered; so, it’s not as convenient as liquid-only options
- A few people reported patchy results, but that may be due to application error
4. Purely Organic Lawn Food
About: Purely Organic Lawn Food is a granule-form fertilizer with an affordable price tag, with each 25-bag covering up to 6,250 square feet of lawn. It’s not an organic option, but it’s still pet-safe if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Phosphorus-free recipe
- Feeds your lawn for up to 8 weeks
- Can be used on all types of grass
- Made in the USA without manure or biosolids
- Nitrogen: 10%
- Potassium: 2%
- Pricing is hard to top, especially since it provides more coverage than most
- Results get a thumb’s up from most owners
- Doesn’t contain any stinky ingredients like manure
- Not organic
- You’ll need a spreader to apply it
5. The Andersons 7-1-2 Innova Premium Organic Fertilizer
A dog-friendly, plant-derived fertilizer that can be used on lawns, gardens, shrubbery, and more.
About: The Andersons 7-1-2 Innova Premium Organic Fertilizer features a mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that can be used around pets, people, and even environmentally sensitive waterways. It’s OMRI-listed for organic use and can be applied to your lawn, flowerbeds, and trees for lasting support.
- Low-dust granular formula
- Each bag covers up to 11,000 square feet, depending on usage
- Slow-release recipe feeds your lawn over time, reducing the risk of burning your grass
- Made in the USA without manure, biosolids, animal parts, or composted waste products
- Nitrogen: 7%
- Phosphate: 1%
- Potassium: 0.2%
- Can be used on lawns, flowers, shrubbery, and harvestable plants
- OMRI-listed, so you can use it on organic crops
- No strong smell, making you and your mutt happy
- While versatile (and potentially covering a lot of area), it’s more expensive than other options
- Granules are larger than most
6. Espoma Organic Lawn Food
About: Espoma Organic Lawn Food nourishes your lawn with pasteurized poultry manure, feather meal, and gypsum, keeping your canine safer than fertilizers using harsher ingredients. However, while “organic” is in the name, it’s not OMRI-listed.
- Spread over your lawn and water if rain isn’t expected within 24 hours
- A 30-pound bag feeds up to 5,000 square feet of lawn
- Intended for use during early spring for peak results
- Made in the USA
- Nitrogen: 8%
- Calcium: 3%
- Sulfur: 1%
- Relies on natural sources of nutrients for your lawn, like manure
- Most owners are pleased with the end appearance of their lawns after applying
- Pricing isn’t too bad (especially with 5,000 feet of coverage per bag!)
- Not OMRI-listed organic
- Aroma isn’t for everyone, even if it dissipates after a day or so
7. Florasoul Plant Booster
About: Florasoul Plant Booster is made entirely of organic seaweed that can be dissolved in water and applied or sprinkled around your plants in dry form. Loaded with 66 vitamins and nutrients, it can help your garden plants produce more fruits and vegetables, which is always a win (especially if they’re ones your doggo dines on!)
- Non-toxic formula safe for use around pets, people, and wildlife
- Non-GMO, cruelty-free, and can be used on all plant types
- Dissolve ¾ teaspoon per 1 gallon of water
- OMRI-listed organic product made in Germany
- Alginic Acid: 18%
- Can be safely used around harvestable plants you and your doggo eat
- Made from seaweed, so far less concerning than chemically-based fertilizers
- Packaging is biodegradable – a win for pet parents looking to keep things eco-friendly
- Pricey for such a small bag, though a little goes a long way
- Some users felt the smell was too strong
What Chemicals Are in Fertilizer?
The biggest concern surrounding fertilizers is the chemicals used within them, as manufacturers aren’t always super transparent with listing every ingredient in a detailed list like dog food must. As pet parents, this is worrying, even for products that claim to be pet friendly.
The active ingredients of most fertilizers are:
- Nitrogen: This growth-promoting nutrient is the most important active ingredient to look for in fertilizer as it’s the most needed by plants to help them grow stronger.
- Phosphorus: This ingredient is responsible for helping plants convert nutrients for new growth but shouldn’t be applied excessively or before heavy rain.
- Potassium: Generally used in smaller amounts than nitrogen and phosphorus, potassium strengthens a plant’s root system and helps protect it from disease.
These active ingredients (often listed as NPK, which refers to the element symbols) are often broken down on the packaging into ratios such as “5-10-10,” meaning the fertilizer is 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium.
Having the right balance of nutrients for your specific application is essential, as too much of a given element can damage your lawn or plants, known as “burning.”
These active ingredients are often derived from natural sources like plants or manure, but they can also be synthetic. For dog-safe applications, seeking a natural option is recommended.
Some fertilizers also include other nutrients to aid in plant growth. While they’re not as widely used as the top three picks, they’re still helpful in certain applications.
Trace minerals featured in fertilizer include:
Always read up on what nutrients the type of plant or grass you’re treating needs, as some are finicky and can burn easily.
Fertilizers may also contain fillers to make the granules for application. These ingredients aren’t the star of the show, but they’re worthy of scrutiny, as they may potentially contain harmful chemicals to your pup.
Common filler ingredients in fertilizer include:
- Ground corn cobs
- Peat moss
These aren’t things we’d feed a dog, but they may be harmless, provided they’re not chemically treated to repel bugs or large enough to be eaten in excess and cause an obstruction.
How Do You Pick a Dog-Safe Fertilizer?
Selecting a dog-safe fertilizer starts with picking one labeled as safe for pets. From there, you can drill down into other criteria.
As a general rule, consider the following when shopping for the right dog-safe fertilizer:
- Skip those containing substances known to be dangerous to dogs. Cocoa bean mulch is a prime example of a known toxic ingredient in fertilizer. Others feature large grains of corn cobs as fillers that can make your dog ill if consumed.
- Avoid unnecessary additives. If your lawn doesn’t need insecticide or herbicide, skip its inclusion. It’s not worth risking your pup’s safety.
- Be critical of organic options. While more natural than other options, organic doesn’t always necessarily mean safe for use around dogs. Some organic fertilizers have ingredients that make the product more appealing to your pup to sniff or even eat, such as manure.
- Aim for transparency. Not every fertilizer manufacturer lists every ingredient, but some do a great job of letting you know what is and isn’t in their product, making your choice easier. Give them business over those who list the bare minimum.
Sometimes there’s an ingredient you’re not sure’s safe around sniffers, and other times your dog’s sensitive to things other pups aren’t. When in doubt, ask your vet.
Using Fertilizer Safely Around Dogs
Just because a product is marked as dog safe, that doesn’t mean you can use it any way you see fit. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to keep you and your canine safe. That said, all fertilizers have basic safety measures to take.
With any fertilizer, remember to:
- Keep your dog off the lawn for roughly 48 hours. Yes, some products claim to be safe right after application, but it’s always best to be as safe as possible, particularly if you have a pup known to scarf down things he shouldn’t, such as new granules in the grass.
- Store products safely. Even dog-friendly fertilizer can be dangerous if ingested, particularly if your pup eats a large amount or is small, young, or medically fragile. Always store fertilizer and other lawn care products out of reach, preferably in a locking cabinet, as some ingredients have scents that entice dogs to chow down.
- Clean up the area. If spreading granules, be sure they’re evenly distributed and do not collect around walkways, patios, or lawn ruts. Check the space after application and remove or redistribute any wayward fertilizer.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling fertilizer and other yard care products. You don’t want to expose yourself or your dog to hidden chemicals. You also don’t want to accidentally spread them around your house as you go about your day.
- Double-check the product’s safety data sheet: Many fertilizers and yard care products have a safety data sheet provided by the manufacturer so you can check for risks, such as skin or eye irritation. If something bothers humans, it’s going to bother pets, too, so heed the warnings.
- Watch your dog: After applying fertilizer and waiting the designated time, monitor your dog in the area to see if he’s sniffing, pawing, or nibbling at the grass, potentially consuming remnants. Don’t allow him to ingest granules. Also, watch him for signs of a problem, like skin irritation around the paws, vomiting, or diarrhea. If noted, contact your vet.
Do you use any of our picks for the best dog-safe fertilizers? Is there another fur-friendly fertilizer we missed that rocks your world? Tell us about your experience in the comments. We’d love to discover a new product!