dandelion by Dr. Hoelscher

Spring is the time for dandelions– beautiful little yellow flowers that fill our yards. Many people despise these flowers, and consequently, they hire companies to spray herbicides and pesticides to eliminate the unwanted “weeds” and bugs.

You may ask yourself, “what impact does this have on our pets as they play in our manicured, green, weed-free lawns?” A six year long study conducted by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine answered this question.

dog running Researchers found that dogs living in homes where professionally applied pesticides/herbicides were used had a 70% higher risk of developing canine malignant lymphoma. Similar results were seen in homes where homeowners used lawn care products containing insect growth regulators. (c. Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine)

A similar study at Purdue University concluded that certain lawn and garden chemicals are linked to canine bladder cancer. This includes the common herbicide 2,4-D. The agricultural use of 2,4-D has increased due to the resistance to Roundup. Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in humans is very similar to CML in dogs, and these studies suggest similar risks to humans exposed to these chemicals.

The dogs’ exposure to these chemicals occurred through ingestion, inhalation and absorption through skin. Chemicals were detected in the urine of dogs in 14 of 25 households before lawn treatment, in 19 of 25 households after lawn treatment, and in 4 of 8 untreated households. Chemicals were commonly detected in grass residues from both treated lawns and untreated lawns exposed to a chemical drift from nearby treated areas.

How to Protect Your Pet

cat looking at dandelions 1. Don’t apply chemical pesticides or herbicides to your lawn. Let those beautiful dandelions bloom!
2. Avoid lawn and garden products that contain insect growth regulators.
3. Avoid lawns know to have had chemical treatments. Many public parks, municipal land and schools are unfortunately regularly treated.
4. Bathe your pet after visiting public parks and such if these cannot be avoided.
5. Keep your dog leashed and on the sidewalk until you have reached your designated pesticide free destination.

There is no doubt that the incidence of cancer in both pets and humans is on the rise, and much research is still needed to determine safety margins of certain chemicals. There are many alternative means of controlling unwanted “weeds/pests” in our environment that are completely safe. In fact, countries like France and the Netherlands have banned the use of pesticides in public green spaces and will soon ban them for private garden use.

If you have any further questions, please give us a call at (608) 845-6700.