Chemical lawn treatments can harm your dog or cat. If you want to keep weeds out, consider using a pet-safe weed killer on this list. Keep cats and dogs safe while treating weeds by trying these non-toxic herbicide products. Plus, we talked with experts on how to safely use weed killer around pets. Many lawn-care products are dangeorus for dogs, but we'll share a few dog safe weed killers that'll keep your yard looking great!
Pet-Safe Weed Killer: 5 Options to Protect Your Lawn
Dogs enjoy frolicking in yards and rolling around in grass. It’s what they do. But if you’re a homeowner who likes to keep their lawn in tip-top shape, then a pet-safe weed killer is incredibly important.
Traditional chemical weed killers and lawn treatments can cause problems for our pets—something I unfortunately have first-hand experience with.
When my spouse and I took a pet-friendly vacation to Maine several years ago, our Cocker Spaniel developed a reaction after romping around the lush, green lawn of our bed and breakfast. Our dog Brady began vomiting and developed a prickly red rash across her stomach. I called a pet poison helpline and was told she likely suffered from chemical exposure and to seek veterinary care. She received IV fluids, a bath, a blood panel, and ointment for her chemical burns. It turns out, the property had used a chemical weed killer a few days before our arrival.
Since that time, I’ve been on a mission to inform other pet parents about the toxicity of certain weed killers and why pet-friendly products should be used in their place.
How Weed Killers Could Harm Pets
Integrative veterinarian Dr. Laurie Coger worries about glyphosate (a common herbicide) in weed killers. She says glyphosate is implicated in many cancers in both dogs and humans.
“Exposure to weed killers, specifically glyphosate, is one of the most overlooked toxins by most dog parents,” she advises. “The chemical is linked to lymphoma and other cancers in humans, and many suspect it could have similar effects in pets.”
In fact, a 6-year study conducted by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine found that the use of lawn chemicals increased a dog’s chance of developing cancer by up to 70 percent.
While homeowners may want to keep their lawns looking weed-free during the spring and summer months, using the wrong products to kill weeds could cause harm to four-legged family members.
“Common sense dictates that we minimize chemical exposure for ourselves and our pets,” Coger says. “Chemical weed killers are a potential danger to our dogs and outdoor cats.”
Roundup and Pets: Is it Safe?
Roundup is a popular weed killer and lawn treatment, but its main ingredient is isopropylamine salt of glyphosate. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup began selling the product in 1974. In 2015, the World Health Organization determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In 2019, a California couple won a $2 billion dollar lawsuit after they developed cancer linked to the use of Roundup weed killer. Although the judge cut the lawsuit to $86.7 million, the settlement was upheld.
Dogs like to roll on grass, many cats go for walks on a leash and their paws encounter grassy lawns, and pets often lick their feet or fur while they are lounging around the house. Any non-pet-friendly weed killers they encounter outside can be ingested into their bloodstream.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, pets that come in contact with wet glyphosate products may drool, have gastric upset, lose their appetites, or become sleepy—none of which are noted on the Roundup labeling or website.
If you do choose to use Roundup as your weed-killer of choice, it’s important to keep your dog away from the treated area and talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns.
What to Look For in a Pet-Safe Weed Killer
There are a few very important aspects to look for when selecting a pet-safe weed killer for your lawn. Here are a few points to consider:
Despite the label that touts a product as pet-safe and pet-friendly or perhaps natural or organic, pet parents should carefully read the ingredient list. Though chemicals can be effective at killing weeds, they can cause issues when pets are exposed to them. Corn gluten meal and vinegar are all-natural products that are generally safe for dogs and cats.
Things like 2,4-D (trimec), sethoxydim, carbon tetrachloride, and chloroform are all ingredients to avoid in a weed killer for pet households.
Look at labels and do some research to verify any governing bodies or organizations that certify weed killers safe for dogs and cats. For example, the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a private, nonprofit organization that certifies products as organic.
Prevention or Killer
Some products kill weeds while others prevent them. If your lawn is in good shape, look for a pet-friendly weed prevention product. If your lawn has a weed problem, a pet-friendly weed killer is the way to go.
Read a broad sample of reviews on the pet-safe weed killer or pet-friendly weed prevention product you’re interested in. How long do people say it took to work? Does it take hours, days, or weeks to see a difference? What weeds does it target? Not all weeds are created equal, as some products target dandelions, mosses, chickweed, and dollar weed, while others are explicitly designed to eliminate crabgrass.
How We Ranked Our Top Pet-Safe Weed Killers
In assembling this list, I’ve considered products I’ve used with success over the past decade. I looked at reviews, talked to an integrative veterinarian, talked to one of my best friends who has a green thumb to match her green pet-friendly lawn, and looked for a wide array of purported pet-friendly lawn products to kill weeds while keeping dogs and cats safe.
We also wanted to make sure that the pet-friendly weed killers on this list were easy to buy online and were effective without the need for a professional lawn-care service.
Our Favorite Pet-Friendly Weed Killers
If you plan to allow your dog or cat to roam around the yard and enjoy the great outdoors, one of these pet-safe weed killer products should be part of our lawn-care regimen.
Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Green Gobbler is OMRI certified for organic use and designed to use where grasses and weeds are not desired. I’ve personally used this product for years. The Green Gobbler formula is 30 percent stronger than traditional table vinegar and is safe to use right out of the container.
I love the removable trigger spray and the fact that it works almost immediately without bothering my dog’s paws or causing irritation. The fact that it is environmentally and pet safe and works like a charm without toxic chemicals puts Green Gobbler high atop our list.
- Derived from USA-grown corn.
- No dyes or chemicals.
- OMRI certified.
- Weeds start to wither within 24 hours.
- Nicely priced.
- Can be used for regular cleaning when diluted with water.
Things To Consider
- Use caution with surrounding plants, as it will affect them if contact is made.
- There is a strong vinegar smell, but it dissipates quickly.
- It is unclear what is used to dilute the vinegar in the actual product. Although it may be water, the information is not readily available.
Sample Buyer Review: “I have been fighting with weeds for three years in areas that have rocks in the yard from the previous owner and found the fabric below the rocks has rotted. This prevents granular and liquid weed control from reaching the dirt and only certain weeds died from contact on the leafy part of the plant. This vinegar destroys the weeds just from contact on the plant. I LOVE this stuff!!”
Natural Elements Weed Killer
I have a small yard and patio area with a deck and wanted to get rid of some weeds earlier this summer. Formulated with salt water and concentrated commercial grade vinegars, this product actually sticks to the weed and strips the coating so weeds are gone in about a day. Many other so-called pet-friendly weed killers take days to work, but Natural Elements really delivered on its fast-acting promise.
There is no mixing, no drifting (don’t spray on a windy day), and it’s best to use in warmer weather so the weeds are gone quicker. In cooler temperatures, it may take at least five days to see the weeds disappear. It is glyphosate-free and the label is very transparent about ingredients and safety.
- Effective on most broadleaf weeds and grasses.
- Easy to spray one-quart bottle.
- Some reviews claim it worked to kill poison ivy, but we didn’t try that.
- Great value for the price.
- Not as pungent in vinegar smell compared to some other products.
- Made in the USA.
Things To Consider
- Will kill grass so do not apply directly to lawns unless that is your intent.
- Not many reviews online but this product may just be “falling under the radar.”
- For larger areas or more frequent use, consider upgrading to the larger size.
Sample Buyer Review: “Keeps the weeds under control and saves time and effort with a quick spray. Great value for money.”
Preen Weed Preventer
One of my closest friends, who is also a dog mom, has been using this on her lawn and garden for years. It is safe to use around over 200 different types of established flowers, trees, shrubs, and even vegetables. This made our list because it actually prevents weeds and can be safely used around pets. It stops weeds before they start, and who doesn’t want to save some time and effort these days?!
Preen Weed Preventer is not washed out of the soil by rain and using it early means the need to hand weed is eliminated. Because it is made from corn gluten meal and does not contain glyphosate, it’s a win-win. My neighbor says she’s noticed her lawn to be a lot greener and that could be because the corn gluten meal works as a fertilizer, too.
- Stops weeds before they become problematic.
- Contains 60 percent protein compared to other weed preventers that contain significantly less. More protein = more effective.
- Safe around plants that are two to three inches tall.
- Prevents weeds from sprouting on the lawn if used multiple times per year.
Things To Consider
- It is on the pricier side.
- Some complain corn gluten-based weed killers are less effective, but remember that this is a weed preventer, designed to be used to prevent and not kill weeds.
- Do not confuse this product with Preen’s Grass and Weed Killer, which does contain glyphosate and is not safe for pets.
Sample Buyer Review: “I have used Preen Weed Preventer for many years around my yard, driveway, etc. The product does exactly what it says when used as directed. Never been disappointed with my results.”
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control
I am a huge fan of Wondercide products and use their flea and tick preventative on my dog. In addition to their spray-on-the-dog treatments, Wondercide also makes an outdoor pest control to kill and repel pests from a lawn. However, after reading that it stopped weeds in their tracks on another customer’s lawn, I decided to give it a try.
Because we recently added a patio to our backyard, I was able to test these products on a large area of grass before the contractors got to work. Oddly enough, when I sprayed Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control on weeds in the yard, they were gone a few weeks later. Granted, it didn’t work as fast as some products, but this was my own personal test. I love that this product is safe on grass for my dog to lay on, roll on, and walk on but effective in killing and repelling ticks and fleas while eliminating weeds!
- Enjoy a bug-free yard and possibly eliminate weeds.
- Safe around butterflies and bees.
- Great for lawns, patios, and landscapes.
- No harsh chemicals.
- Spray and play, as there is zero wait time after application.
- Made with cedar oil, sesame oil, seeds, and fruit in the USA.
Things to Consider
- Not touted as a weed controller, but it worked for me.
- Must be diluted and requires a separate applicator.
- Available in a variety of sizes, be certain to get the sprayer version for complete spraying application.
Sample Buyer Review: “I know you don’t advertise this as a feature, but I am thrilled to have this in my arsenal. I can now treat my weeds and allow my pets to use the yard. It also doesn’t seem to be affecting the plants I want in the yard at all. What a win!”
Eco Garden Pro Organic Weed Killer
This is the first pet-friendly weed killing product I encountered that combines organic white vinegar with Himalayan rock salt. The two ingredients work so well together that they kill weeds and prevent immediate regrowth. In addition to being safe around dogs and cats, the company touts it as safe for bees, fish, and other live stock.
In addition to weeds, it can kill moss, clover, and poison ivy and is 100 percent biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Since it contains no phosphates, it’s also safe for groundwater. If I could hug this bottle, I would because it is slowly becoming my new favorite.
- In addition to being safe around pets, the products on this list are touted as safe around kids, and Eco Garden is no exception.
- They only use pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that are sustainably sourced whenever possible.
- 100 percent satisfaction guarantee or your money back.
- Perfect for residential areas as well as commercial, industrial, and agricultural areas along with driveways, sidewalks, concrete, mulch beds, pavement, flowers beds, parking lots, and farm lands.
Things To Consider
- Some complain it takes too long to kill clover and dandelions.
- Some reviewers say weeds came back too fast.
- Complaints of strong smell but others say it goes away soon.
Sample Buyer Review: “I bought this to get rid of the dandelions in my backyard. It came premixed. I sprayed it in the afternoon and it worked overnight. I have a 2 years old Golden Retriever, it is nice not having to worry about him after spraying the yard.”
Which Pet-Safe Weed Killer Is Best?
I like each of the above pet-friendly weed killer products equally—but for different reasons. Never use all of them at one time and give each product enough time to dry and test before moving to another formula.
Despite the pet-safe and pet-friendly labeling, I never apply any product in the presence of my dog. Canine noses are sensitive and I wait until the products dry before allowing my pup to traipse, roll, walk, and play on the lawn.
When walking your dog, be careful about letting your dog walk in other people’s lawns, since you never know if chemical products were used.
These 7 Products Effectively Kill Weeds Without Harming Pets
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
On This Page
- Our Top Picks
- Usage Tips
- What To Look For
- Ingredients to Avoid
As flowers and plants begin to bloom this spring, it’s inevitable that we’ll soon notice the pesky weeds growing right beside them. Before turning to weed killers that could be potentially toxic for our four-legged friends, consider a pet-friendly weed killer that works as a safer alternative for pets and other outdoor animals.
Most pet-friendly products rely on recognizable household ingredients, like concentrated vinegar, dish soap, or salt. These low-toxicity products can tackle many weeds without covering the yard in unfamiliar chemicals that can be a cause for concern when pets are playing outside.
If you already have a traditional chemical weed killer (such as one containing glyphosate), don’t throw it out quite yet. Highly effective glyphosate weed killers can still be safe for pets as long as they are used appropriately, according to a study from the University of Maryland. Whether you are ready to try a new pet-friendly product or want to use up an old product in an animal-safe way, here are our top picks for pet-safe weed killer and everything you need to know about how to keep your pets away from potentially unsafe weed killers.
Our Top Picks
Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
With a formula of 20 percent vinegar, the Green Gobbler promises to eliminate any type of weed within 24 hours. It is especially effective for invasive and widespread weeds like clover, crab grass, or dollarweed. This weed killer is non-selective, though, so only spray it on areas where you want all growth ceased—in other words, do not expect it to spare your perfectly green lawn.
The Green Gobbler boasts more than 4,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. One purchaser said, “I purchased this product because I wanted to reduce the number of weeds in my backyard, which is the yard my dogs primarily use. Having lost one dog to lymphoma and knowing that they all like to munch on backyard ‘greens,’ I was looking for something non-toxic while still being effective. Green Gobbler fits the bill.”
Harris 20% Vinegar Extra Strength
When looking for a non-toxic weed killer, Harris’ 20 percent concentrated vinegar is hard to beat. Spray the pure vinegar on invasive patches of weeds to kill them, but keep in mind that it will kill any plant or grass it comes into contact with. The concentrated vinegar can still irritate skin and lungs, so make sure you keep pets inside and wear protective gear while applying it.
Just For Pets Pet Friendly & Pet Safe Weed Killer
The “Just For Pets” all-natural weed killer boasts a fast-drying formula that will not harm animals. This pet-friendly herbicide relies on a combination of common ingredients, including vinegar, citric acid, salt, clove oil, and lemon juice. Be careful where you spray it though because it will kill any greenery it touches! A bonus for pet owners: A portion of each sale is donated to animal shelters nationwide.
A five-star reviewer of the “Just For Pets” weed killer said, “I was skeptical but wanted to give it a try since we have dogs and toddlers and try to avoid the harsh chemicals. We had some very heavily overgrown weeds in some flower beds and this stuff worked amazingly! Killed everything we sprayed overnight!”
Bonide Ready-to-Use Burnout Weed and Grass Killer
The “Burnout Weed and Grass Killer” promises to disintegrate any greenery in its path. The all-natural Bonide product is a good option for anyone with a nose that is particularly sensitive to vinegar: Many reviewers say the clove oil and citric acid formula offers a more pleasant smell than other products. Once fully dried, the formula is waterproof, making it particularly safe for humans and pets.
Natural Armor Weed and Grass Killer
In its organic formula, Natural Armor’s herbicide uses vinegar, salt and citrus ingredients, and essential oils to stop the growth of weeds in mere hours. As with many other products, the weed killer is non-selective, so use it carefully around prized plants. This product does best when applied on warm, sunny days.
ECO Garden PRO – Organic Vinegar Weed Killer
This ready-to-use product uses organic white vinegar and Himalayan rock salt to eliminate yard weeds without harming pets. Since it is a non-selective product, this organic weed killer is especially useful when targeting weeds that pop up on driveways, sidewalks, or parking lots. It tackles everything from widespread clover to poison ivy without creating a dangerous environment for pets.
A five-star reviewer wrote, “We had a lot of weeds and crabgrass in our yard, but we also have dogs. It was hard to find a weed killer that was organic and safe for my pets but worked. This does the job.”
Dr. Earth Final Stop Weed & Grass Killer
The Dr. Earth weed and grass killer is made from a blend of essential oils, including clove, cinnamon, rosemary, and thyme. As with the other products on this list, it can kill grass that you would like to keep green, so pay extra attention to where the spray ends up. Although this is safe for pets, do not let your pet near the area right after spraying when the product is still wet. Reviewers on Chewy said this doesn’t work quite as well as traditional weed killer, but it gives them peace of mind as pet parents.
How to Best Protect Pets from Weed Killers
Tina Wismer, DVM, and the senior director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, says that many pets get exposed to weed killers when they are outside with their owner while gardening and lick a wet weed that has just been chemically treated. In order to avoid this, make sure you keep pets inside while spraying any chemicals, and keep them away from the treated area until the weed killer is fully dried.
“Always make sure to follow label directions when applying weed killers,” Wismer says. “Keep pets off the treated area until it is dry—could be minutes or hours depending on the humidity.”
Other pets are exposed not during the application of the weed killer, but when it is stored incorrectly. Dogs can mistake gardening products for toys, says Whitmer, and when “playing,” they can ingest unsafe weed killers. To prevent this, pet owners should store their weed killers in an unreachable spot for animals and away from food sources.
This storage rule applies regardless of whether pet owners are using harsh herbicides or natural remedies: ingesting concentrated vinegar can cause many of the same illness symptoms in dogs as other chemical weed killers.
What to Look for in Pet-Safe Weed Killer
Many pet owners have begun turning to natural acid alternatives instead of potentially unsafe herbicides containing glyphosate after health-related lawsuits. Popular products to replace glyphosate usually contain concentrated vinegar, clove oil, or citric acid.
Erica Irish, DVM, who practices in Minneola, Fla., and works as a consultant for BetterPet, says that concentrated vinegar can be less toxic than other herbicides, but most pets will be perfectly safe with any weed killer as long as their owners are correctly following the directions for applying it. No matter the product (vinegar-based or otherwise), you will want to keep animals away during its application and drying period.
“As far as safety goes—the active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, is in a lot of the stuff that we will use, like certain ear cleaners,” Irish says. “So, safety-wise, it may be a little better than more commercial products. But, then there’s also the question of how effective it will be.”
If you’re especially worried about harsh chemicals in your yard, use a weed killer with more familiar ingredients like concentrated vinegar. But, if the natural weed killers are not doing the trick, then Irish says pet owners can still use more traditional weed killers as long as they carefully follow directions or hire professionals to apply the chemicals.
Key Ingredients to Avoid in Weed Killer
There are many toxic herbicide ingredients that pet owners may want to avoid, but the danger often corresponds to how much of the product your pet ingests. Merck Veterinary Manual details over 130 products that can cause poisoning at different levels, but here are some common herbicide chemicals to avoid:
This common herbicide has been linked to health risks in humans and animals, though the scientific community is split on the issue, and it continues to be evaluated. The National Pesticide Information Center warns that glyphosate can be toxic if animals touch or eat plants that are covered in the chemical while still wet. The NPIC says if your pet ingests glyphosate, they can show signs of vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or drowsiness.
This toxic chemical is recognized as the most dangerous weed killer, according to Wismer. It can accumulate in the lungs and can cause scarring leading to difficulty breathing. It is primarily only available to licensed operators, but it is worth pet owners being aware of its danger.
This pesticide ingredient is one that Irish says many pet owners avoid because of its high toxicity and its potential for harming an animal’s nervous system.
Pet-Safe Weed Killers: Controlling Your Lawn Safely
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Keeping your lawn in tip-top shape is not only satisfying in its own right, it can also help increase your property value.
But weeds represent a serious foe in the battle for a beautiful lawn. So, a lot of homeowners end up strolling down the lawn-care aisle at their local big-box retailer to pick up a spray or powder designed to kill weeds.
The problem is, some of these products may not be safe for your dog.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about using weed killers around your pets below.
We’ll explain how they work, discuss some of the dangers they may present, and identify a few that are unlikely to harm your pet in any way, shape, or form.
Best Pet-Safe Weed Killers: Quick Picks
- #1 Dr. Kirchner Natural Weed Killer[Best Overall Pet-Safe Weed Killer] — Made with strong vinegar, soap, and salt, this glyphosate-free weed killer is effective, easy to use, and safe for four-footers.
- #2 Natural Armor 30% Home & Garden Vinegar [Most Affordable Pet-Safe Weed Killer] — Formulated with super-strong 30% vinegar, this product will safely kill weeds without breaking the bank.
- #3 Preen Weed Preventer [Best Pet-Safe Pre-Emergent] — If you’d rather prevent weeds from coming up instead of battling with them after they’ve germinated — and you want to do so in dog-safe fashion — this product is the ideal choice.
The 10 Best Dog-Safe Weed Killers for Your Yard
Many of the most popular weed killers may be dangerous to dogs, but there are options available that shouldn’t represent much of a threat at all (you still wouldn’t want your pet to drink or bathe in them, but when used properly, they shouldn’t be dangerous).
We’ll discuss 10 of the best options below.
1. Dr. Kirchner Natural Weed Killer
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Dr. Kirchner Natural Weed Killer
A dog-friendly weed killer that includes soap and salt for extra weed-killing power.
About: Dr. Kirchner Natural Weed Killer is a seawater-based weed killer that the manufacturer claims is safe for people, pets, chickens, horses, and the environment.
And unlike some other weed killers, which do not provide a full list of ingredients, Dr. Kirchner Natural Weed Killer lists all four ingredients used: Sodium chloride (salt), water, vinegar, and soap. The salt included in the formula does most of the weed-killing, but the vinegar and soap help too.
- Primary weed-killing ingredient is sodium chloride (salt)
- Non-selective weed killer, so spray with discretion
- Offered in several sizes, ranging from 1 quart to a whopping 640 ounces
- Made in the USA
- Received lots of positive reviews — including from dog owners
- Many users were surprised that it killed weeds in a matter of hours
- Contains only four pet-safe active ingredients
- Some of the spray nozzles didn’t work particularly well
- One of the most expensive pet-safe weed killers
2. Natural Armor 30% Home & Garden Vinegar
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Natural Armor 30% Home & Garden Vinegar
An all-natural, budget-friendly, pet-safe weed killer made with 30% vinegar
About: Natural Armor 30% Home & Garden Vinegar is an all-natural, glyphosate-free weed killer that can also be used for a variety of other purposes, such as cleaning brick walkways, reducing soil pH, and polishing chrome.
In contrast to Natural Armor’s other pet-safe weed killer we discuss below (which contains a few different active ingredients), this one contains only a single ingredient: 30% vinegar.
- Made with super-concentrated vinegar
- Doubles as a strong deodorizer, making it perfect for outdoor kennel areas
- Spray option allows for easy application
- Comes with a 100% money-back guarantee
- Contains only a single, pet-safe active ingredient
- Very effective at killing weeds
- Can be used in a variety of different applications
- Some users complained that repeated applications were necessary to kill weed roots
- Spray-nozzle malfunctions were somewhat common
3. Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed Killer
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Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed Killer
A vinegar-based, pet-safe weed killer that’s easy to use — you’ll be killing weeds in seconds.
About: Green Gobbler Ultimate Vinegar Home & Garden is a vinegar-based weed killer that is designed to be a safer alternative to traditional weed killers. The primary active ingredient in Green Gobbler’s Ultimate Vinegar Home & Garden is (wait for it) vinegar.
Best of all, this pet-safe weed killer comes pre-mixed and a spray nozzle is included. Just screw the sprayer on the bottle and start blasting.
- Concentrated vinegar is the active ingredient
- Glyphosate-free formula
- Biodegradable and certified for organic use
- Easy-to-use spray design with nozzle included
- Users reported that it killed most weeds within 24 hours
- Ready-to-use product that doesn’t require dilution or mixing
- Spray nozzle reportedly works quite well
- Very strong vinegar odor
4. Natural Armor Weed & Grass Killer
Natural Armor Weed & Grass Killer
A pet-safe weed killer made with vinegar and added citrus extracts to give it a pleasant smell.
About: Natural Armor Weed & Grass Killer is an all-natural product designed to kill more than 250 different types of weeds and grasses. It is made from acetic acid (vinegar), citrus ingredients, sodium ingredients, essential oil, glycerin, and water.
The inclusion of citrus ingredients is noteworthy, as they help to give the product a relatively pleasant smell, unlike the strong vinegar odor associated with many other options.
- Active ingredients are sodium chloride, citric acid, and clove oil
- Requires no mixing prior to use
- Fast-acting formula starts working within hours
- Backed by a 100% money-back guarantee
- Effective on a broad array of weeds and plants
- Has a subtle citrus-like smell
- Backed by a money-back guarantee
- We wish they’d explain more about the ingredients used
- The spray nozzle gave some users fits
5. Preen Weed Preventer
Preen Weed Preventer
This pet-safe pre-emergent helps prevent weeds from germinating in the first place.
About: Preen Weed Preventer is a 100% natural lawn and garden product made from a single, pet-safe ingredient: corn gluten meal. Note that this isn’t a weed-killer in the conventional sense of the term; instead, it is a pre-emergent herbicide, which will prevent weed seeds from growing.
Safe for pets and effective, this is the best option for owners who’re trying to kill weeds before they even sprout.
- Blocks weed growth using corn gluten meal
- Doubles as a fertilizer
- Safe for use around plants that are at least 2 to 3 inches tall
- Made with 60% protein (40% more than competitors)
- Corn gluten meal is completely safe for your pooch
- This particular pre-emergent contains exceptionally protein-rich corn gluten meal
- Several users reported an overall improvement in lawn health
- Proper use is critical to achieve the desired results
- Won’t work on existing weeds
6. Natural Elements Weed Killer
Natural Elements Weed Killer
A biodegradable, broad-spectrum weed killer that’s safe for pets and the environment.
About: Natural Elements Weed Killer is a salt and vinegar-based formula that’s pet and family-friendly. Non-toxic and 100-percent biodegradable, it’s an earth-conscious option for guilt-free yard maintenance.
Just be aware that this weed killer reportedly exhibits broader efficacy than many other options. This is a selling point for some owners, but just be careful using it around plants you don’t want to kill.
- Effective against broadleaf weeds, clover, dandelions, and more
- Not intended for lawn usage (it will kill grass)
- Works within 24 hours of application
- Made in the USA
- Very highly rated by consumers
- The no-mix formula is very convenient
- This is one of the more affordable pet-friendly weed killers out there
- Some owners found it wasn’t effective against all weeds or plants
- Not all size options come with spray nozzles, so order with care
7. OrganicMatters Natural Weed Killer Spray
OrganicMatters Natural Weed Killer Spray
A pet-safe weed killer featuring salt, vinegar, and clove oil that produces fast results.
About: OrganicMatters Natural Weed Killer Spray is a concentrated salt, vinegar, and clove oil formula that eliminates common weeds like dandelions and crabgrass. Just spray on with the included nozzle and enjoy organic, pet-friendly weed eradication.
Despite having a similar formula to many other pet-friendly weed killers, most owners were shocked at how quickly this product started wiping out their weeds.
- Eco-friendly, glyphosate-free formula
- Kills weeds within 24 hours
- Fast-drying recipe for worry-free application
- Comes with a 30-day manufacturer’s money-back guarantee
- Most owners report that it’s fast-acting and effective
- A relatively affordable pet-safe weed killer
- Formula is simple to apply, with no need for mixing
- Some users found the smell to be rather intense
- It’s a broad-spectrum weed killer, so use caution around vegetation you don’t want to eliminate
8. Just For Pets Weed Killer Spray
Just For Pets Weed Killer Spray
A non-toxic weed killer that was created by pet owners to be four-footer friendly.
About: Just For Pets Weed Killer Spray is a non-toxic, glyphosate-free formula that’s made by pet lovers for use in fur-friendly yards. With the included nozzle, just mist unwanted weeds and see results within hours.
And while all of the weed killers we recommend here are safe for pets when used properly, this one is the only one actually created by pet owners. This makes the product the best option for owners who don’t want to take any chances with their canine.
- Active ingredients include vinegar, salt, clove oil, and more
- Quick-drying formula
- Per the manufacturer, it’s effective against 250+ types of weeds
- Comes with a 100 percent money-back guarantee
- A great option for owners who prioritize safety above all other considerations
- Ready to use — just spray and go!
- A portion of each sale is donated to animal shelters across the US, which is always a win
- Use caution around lawns, as this will kill nearby grass
- Some owners had problems with the included sprayer
9. Energen Carolina LLC Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Energen Carolina LLC Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
A pet-friendly, broad-spectrum weed killer that’s effective and suitable for organic crops.
About: Energen Carolina LLC’s Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer is a non-selective plant eliminator that works great against clover, ground ivy, crabgrass, and more. A glyphosate-free formula, this product is safe for use around pets and people once dried.
As an added bonus, this pet-safe weed killer is approved for organic use, and it can be sprayed around crops up to two days before harvest.
- Approved for use around organic crops
- Concentrated formula powers through stubborn weeds and unwanted grass
- Available in 1-quart and 1-gallon sizes
- Super-concentrated vinegar solution
- It’s effective but strong, so use caution around desirable plants
- The smell isn’t as offensive as other options
- Reviews praise this formula for being fast-acting and quick-drying
- T he container doesn’t list the inactive ingredients
- There aren’t as many reviews for this product as some other options
10. ECO Garden Pro
ECO Garden Pro
An eco-friendly, biodegradable weed killer that will produce results in only 24 hours.
About: ECO Garden Pro is a phosphate-free formula that uses salt and vinegar to kill weeds without harming people or animals. See results within 24 hours and get back to weed-free outdoor fun with your four-footer.
Just note that this product does not come with a sprayer, and it is best-suited for serious gardeners, who’re comfortable transferring it into a spray-ready container.
- Eco-friendly solution that’s 100% biodegradable
- Effective against clover, dandelions, moss, and more
- Non-selective formula
- Made in the USA
- It works great, even on tall weeds
- Pre-mixed solution is ready to pour into a spray bottle
- The organic nature gets a thumb’s up from gardeners
- Some owners report that repeat applications were needed
- Since this is a non-selective mixture, use caution around plants and grass you’d like to keep
- No sprayer is included
How Do Traditional Weed Killers Work?
There are a variety of different weed killers on the market, and a lot of them use different active ingredients and work in different ways. We’ll take a look at three of the most common ones in widespread use below.
Glyphosate (the primary active ingredient in Roundup) is one of the most commonly used weed killers in the world.
It is effective on plants that have already started growing, and it is usually produced in liquid form, which you can spray in the desired area.
Unlike some other herbicides, which only target some subset of plants (such as grasses or broad-leaved plants), glyphosate kills everything.
Many backyard gardeners, municipalities, and landscaping professionals use glyphosate, but it is the agricultural industry that consumes the bulk of that which is produced.
And that makes sense. After all, you may hate the dandelions growing on your lawn, but weeds represent lost money to farmers, as they compete with the crops being grown.
In fact, Monsanto – the company that manufactures Roundup (as well as a variety of other products) – sells seeds for crops that have been genetically modified so that they tolerate glyphosate.
This means that farmers can hose down their crops with the herbicide, safe in the knowledge that the genetically modified crops are the only plants that will survive.
2,4-D is another extremely common herbicide, and some sources identify it as the one in most widespread use.
2,4-D is a plant hormone that causes broad-leafed plants to grow in improper ways, which cause them to die. Unlike glyphosate, 2,4-D targets dicots (broad-leaved plants, including most “weeds”), while allowing monocots (like grasses) to live.
Accordingly, it is often used to control weed growth amid lawns.
Sethoxydim has the opposite effect of 2,4-D – instead of killing broad-leafed plants, it targets monocots (primarily grasses).
It is a post-emergent product, designed to be used on grass weeds that have already sprouted. It is effective on many, but not all, grasses that commonly cause problems for homeowners.
Sethoxydim works by inhibiting the growth of the undesired weeds. The meristems (locations of rapid cell division and growth) of the treated plants typically turn black within 48 hours, while the rest of the plant begins turning red or yellow within about one week.
Complete plant death usually occurs in about two weeks.
Are Traditional Weed Killers Like Roundup Pet Safe?
It isn’t entirely clear whether some of the popular weed killers are safe for pets. Simply put, we need more data to draw clear conclusions.
So, we’re left just trying to make the best decision on behalf of our pets.
On the one hand, these things are used so much that there’d probably be an epidemic of sick and dying dogs if they were – as How Stuff Works puts it – “violently toxic.”
But on the other hand, many weed killers can trigger mild to severe reactions in people and pets who have direct contact with them, and there is an increasing body of evidence that suggests some popular weed killers may be dangerous.
It is also important to note that dogs do appear to absorb many common herbicides – even when their owners don’t use the products themselves. Scientists at the University of Maryland have verified that several common herbicides are detectable in the urine of dogs whose owners didn’t use herbicides.
Is Glyphosate (Roundup) Safe for Pets?
Scientists have collected quite a bit of data about glyphosate (aka Roundup) over the last few decades.
Some studies appear to indicate that glyphosate is unlikely to cause illness or death, but other studies have yielded pretty harrowing information.
In fact, some of the data collected has been troubling enough to warrant glyphosate bans in some countries. Some, like the Netherlands, ban its non-commercial use, while others – such as Sri Lanka – banned the chemical completely (Sri Lanka did, however, reverse the law after heavy crop losses).
Glyphosate essentially works by destroying EPSP synthase – an enzyme that most plants need to survive. Theoretically, this means that it shouldn’t have much of an effect on dogs, as animals don’t produce EPSP synthase at all.
But glyphosate isn’t the only thing in Roundup – it also contains a variety of purportedly inert ingredients.
Unfortunately, it appears that some of these secondary ingredients may be dangerous. A 2013 study sought to verify this empirically, by testing glyphosate and the ostensibly inert ingredients used in its formulation.
The researchers did, in fact, find that weed killer’s inert ingredients (as well as the composite formulation) were problematic, regardless of whether or not glyphosate was dangerous. The study’s authors state as much quite plainly: “Here we demonstrate that all formulations are more toxic than glyphosate.” (In this context, they mean formulations containing glyphosate, versus pure glyphosate.)
For example, many dogs suffer from gastrointestinal or respiratory symptoms after coming into contact with Roundup. Fatalities were even recorded by one group of researchers who were examining the risks of the weed killer.
On the flip side, there are studies demonstrating that glyphosate is unlikely to cause harm in practice. For example, a 2008 study examining the effects of glyphosate on woodland mammals and amphibians concluded that: “there seems to be a large margin of safety between dosages encountered and those causing either death or limitation of movement, foraging or shelter.”
But forget about your pup; glyphosate may not even be safe for humans. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans,” based on “limited evidence of cancer in humans (from real-world exposures that actually occurred) and “sufficient” evidence of cancer in experimental animals (from studies of “pure” glyphosate).”
All of this research is enough to convince us that Roundup and glyphosate is probably something to avoid using around your dog.
But, if you’d like to read more about the issue, this article from The Scientist provides further information.
Is 2,4-D (Trimec) Safe for Pets?
Because 2,4-D is primarily designed to affect the way plants grow, it is thought to be fairly safe for humans when properly used and applied.
Nevertheless, as explained by the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), “People who drank products containing 2,4-D vomited, had diarrhea, headaches, and were confused or aggressive.”
Skin contact in humans often results in irritation, and people who breathe in the fumes can experience coughing, burning sensations, and dizziness.
So, yeah – you definitely don’t to drink this stuff, breathe in its fumes, or get it on your skin.
And unfortunately for dog lovers, it appears that canines are more sensitive to the chemical than many other animals. According to the NPIC, “Dogs and cats that ate or drank products with 2,4-D in them developed vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, drooling, staggering, or convulsions.”
It isn’t clear whether your pet can get enough 2,4-D by licking sprayed grass to cause these problems or not, but it’s probably not something that most dog owners want to find out firsthand.
Additionally, it is important to note that 2,4-D appears to remain on the plant surfaces longer (up to 3 days) than most other common herbicides.
Is Sethoxydim Toxic for Pets?
While it probably shouldn’t be considered completely safe, sethoxydim appears less toxic than many of the other commonly used herbicides.
Tests in mice demonstrated that it did not appear to be carcinogenic, and similar tests seem to verify that it will not cause developmental or DNA-altering effects either.
However, it can cause symptoms ranging from sedation to tremors in humans when ingested.
Additionally, in high doses, it appears to cause anemia in dogs. Accordingly, caution is definitely warranted when using sethoxydim.
Outdated Weed Killers
Some of the old-school herbicides farmers and gardeners used decades ago were pretty nasty stuff.
For example, 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) was used until the 1970s, when scientists discovered that while the active ingredient was moderately safe, the specifics of the manufacturing process resulted in a final product that was quite toxic.
This is an important revelation, which we’ll see again in a moment.
But ultimately, 2,3,5-T and most other potentially dangerous herbicides – including borax, sodium arsenite, and arsenic trioxide – have been weeded out (sorry – I couldn’t resist) over time.
What About Weed and Feed? Is There a Pet-Safe Weed and Feed Product?
Weed and feeds (also called “weed ‘n’ feed” or sometimes, mistakenly, “weed and seeds”) are combination lawncare products, consisting of a weed killer and a fertilizer. They get rid of your weeds and then they “feed” (fertilize) your lawn.
Because they eliminate the need to apply two separate products, they’re pretty popular with homeowners and landscapers. However, they aren’t a great option for pet owners, as the majority contain components that are not safe for four-footers (some argue that they aren’t even ideal for general use, as the optimum timing for applying fertilizers and weed killers differs).
In fact, we’re not aware of any pet-safe weed and feed (or pet-safe weed and seed). That doesn’t mean there’s not one on the market, or that you may not get lucky using one that’s not specifically designed for pets.
But it’s not specially wise to gamble with your pet’s health. Accordingly, it is wiser to simply use two different products — a pet-safe weed-killer and a pet-safe fertilizer.
Are There Any Pet-Safe Granular Weed Killers?
Some homeowners like to use granular weed killers, rather than liquid products. However, this is rarely the best option for pet owners.
Most of the pet-safe granular weed killers are actually pre-emergent weed killers, rather than products that’ll kill existing weeds. And if you’re going to use a pre-emergent weed killer around pets, you may as well just use something completely non-toxic (to dogs), such as corn gluten meal.
At this time, we aren’t aware of any granular weed killer we’d feel comfortable recommending for pet owners. If you’re aware of one that may be suitable, let us know in the comments below.
Pet-Safe Practices: Kill Your Weeds Safely
The dog-safe weed killers we recommend above should only represent a minimal threat to your pets. But remember that many “safe” chemicals and ingredients can become dangerous if applied excessively or improperly.
So, be sure to employ the following tips when trying to kill the weeds in your yard:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Many commercial weed killers are only effective when applied in the proper amount and manner. Using more of the product than is recommended usually won’t provide better results, and it may increase the risks to your dog’s safety. Just do what the manufacturer tells you to do.
- Keep your dog inside while you’re applying weed killers (or lawn chemicals of any kind). You don’t want to accidentally spray your dog, nor do you want him licking weed killer off the grass you just sprayed, so keep him inside while you’re applying these products.
- Avoid applying sprays in windy conditions. Strong winds can blow weed killers into areas you didn’t intend on treating. This can end up killing plants you wanted to keep, and it may even contaminate your dog’s house or preferred play area too.
- Don’t allow your dog to play in the yard for about 24 hours following application. Over time, most weed killers will break down or be absorbed by the soil and plant tissues. Most products will explain how long you need to keep kids and pets away from the treated area, so just heed the advice provided. You’ll obviously still need to let your pupper answer nature’s call, but just take him to a local park or friendly neighbor’s yard (just be sure to clean up after your pet).
Dog-Safe Safe Lawn Care Strategies
The weed-killing products recommended earlier are very unlikely to harm your pet if used properly.
However, there are a few things you can do to help limit weeds that are even safer – we’d even go as far as to consider them completely safe.
1. Boiling Water
Boiling water will kill many weeds, thereby eliminating the need for an herbicide at all.
But, it’ll also kill grass and other desirable plants, so it won’t work for waging war on the dandelions growing in the middle of your yard.
It will, however, work pretty well for killing stuff growing between the cracks on your driveway or similar scenarios.
Just fill a big pot with water, heat it until it’s boiling and then carry it outside and dump it on the weeds you want to take out. For goodness’ sake, be careful though – boiling water is a great example of a “natural chemical” which is undoubtedly dangerous.
It may take more than one round of boiling water to completely eliminate the weeds, and you’ll likely have to do this periodically as new weeds pop up over the summer. But, it’s free and it’s a truly non-toxic approach.
Vinegar, it turns out, is a pretty potent plant killer. In fact, it is the active ingredient in several of the pet-safe weed killers we recommend above.
That begs the question: If vinegar will kill weeds, why buy fancy pet-safe weed killers at all?
The truth is, you don’t have to.
You can simply buy vinegar, pour it in a spray bottle, and start raining non-toxic death on your weeds. Except that you can’t use regular vinegar like the kind you keep in your kitchen – you have to use a special kind of vinegar.
The problem boils down to concentration. The white or apple cider vinegar that you use to make salad dressings or soups are pretty diluted – most are only about 5% vinegar.
This isn’t strong enough to kill most plants. Instead, you’ll need a solution of 10% to 30% vinegar to have the desired effect.
Sure, you can buy strong vinegar yourself, but at that point, you’d be paying nearly as much as you would for a ready-to-go, dog-safe weed killer.
Salt is also a relatively safe substance that is a natural weed- and grass killer.
You obviously don’t want your dog to eat a mouthful of salt, as this can be quite dangerous, but if you apply it in a sensible fashion, it shouldn’t present any problems.
The best way to apply salt is by mixing it with some water and then spraying down the weeds you want to kill. Salt isn’t selective, so you’ll want to avoid spraying it on any plants you don’t want to kill.
This means it is best suited for killing weeds growing through cracks in your sidewalk or driveway.
Start with a relatively weak salt solution – something in the 3:1 (water: salt) ballpark – to make this kind of pet-friendly homemade weed killer recipe.
If a few applications of that strength don’t seem to be working, add some more salt and try again. Just try to use the weakest solution possible to avoid causing long-term issues for the soil.
4. Hand Pull Your Weeds
It may not be particularly fun to do so, but you can just hand-pull the weeds in your yard. If you do so regularly and stay on top of things, it can be pretty effective, and it won’t represent any type of danger for your pooch.
You may want to even consider picking up a stand-up weed removing tool to make the job a bit easier.
5. Incorporate Allelopathic Plants
Many plant species produce chemicals that kill other plants or simply prevent them from growing.
These plants – which are called allelopathic plants – do so as a way to eliminate the competition. You can incorporate them in your yard to help cut down on the number of weeds that grow.
This isn’t a particularly simple solution, as you’ll have to identify the best plants for your property, install them, and then wait for them to get to work. You’ll also have to pick plants that are harmful to weeds, but harmless to the plants you want to survive.
So, you’ll have to do a bit of research to employ this strategy. We don’t have the space to explain more here, but this page may help you understand the basics.
6. Switch to a Non-Grass Ground Cover
Unless your HOA or local code enforcement officials mandate otherwise, there’s no reason you have to maintain a grass-based lawn.
There are a number of other ground covers you can use, ranging from ivies to clovers, which will usually help prevent or reduce the number of weeds that pop up in your lawn.
Just be sure to select a dog-safe variety that’ll grow well in your area if you decide to make a switch.
7. Burn the Weeds
In some cases, the best way to eliminate weeds is by simply burning them.
Fire obviously presents some safety concerns, so do be careful while using a torch, but it completely eliminates the need to use potentially toxic chemicals.
There are a bunch of torches on the market, but the Red Dragon Weed Dragon is clearly one of the best. It is made in the USA and designed to hook up to any refillable propane tank (like the one under your grill). It also earned the National Home Gardening Club Member Tested Seal-of-Approval.
Just understand that fire may not be a prudent solution for those living in the drought-plagued west, as the risk of sparking a wildfire is simply too great.
But, for those living on the East Coast or the Pacific Northwest, fire can be a helpful and non-toxic tool for eliminating weeds.
You obviously can’t mulch your lawn, but if you apply a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer of mulch around your trees and in any flower beds, you’ll prevent weeds from growing in these types of places.
You can also use mulch in and around walkways, play areas, and dog runs too.
Just be sure to stick to a dog-safe mulch product. Pine bark nuggets or pine straw are two of the best options, and they’re likely more environmentally sustainable than cypress mulches are (although cypress mulch should be safe for your pet).
Just be sure to avoid cocoa mulches, mulches that have been dyed, or any mulches that don’t indicate the materials used in their production – you don’t want to purchase a mulch that contains salvaged construction materials in it.
9. Just Ignore Them
Honestly, this is my preferred method of dealing with weeds – they don’t bother me, so I don’t bother them.
Most weeds don’t represent any problem aside from compromising the aesthetics of your lawn, and some of us simply don’t care about this “problem.”
For that matter, given the fact that the earth is currently experiencing a biodiversity crisis, there’s something to be said for allowing an assortment of plant species to grow in your yard. Additionally, many native weeds are important food sources for bees and other critters.
I understand that most readers (particularly ones who’ve stumbled upon this article) won’t be willing to embrace this approach, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
Dog Safe Weed Care FAQs
We’ve tried to cover everything you need to know about dog-safe weed killers above, but there are a few common questions we felt could use a little more discussion.
Is Roundup weed killer safe for pets?
The evidence regarding the safety of Roundup (and, to a lesser extent, the active ingredient glyphosate) is mixed. Personally, I’d consider it too risky to use around pets, but some owners may feel comfortable using it.
Is Spectracide weed killer safe for pets?
Spectracide contains a number of active ingredients, but 2,4-D is the first one that appears on the label. As discussed above, 2,4-D is certainly not something to take lightly, and dogs appear to be especially sensitive to it.
Is there a pet-safe way to get rid of dandelions?
Dandelions are a bit tricky to eliminate in a dog-safe fashion, as they often grow in the middle of your lawn. Normally, a selective herbicide (which kills broad-leaved plants without harming grasses) would be the best option, but most such herbicides are not completely safe for pets.
As discussed above, there are a number of pet-safe weed killers, but none are selective. So, the best way to deal with dandelions will either involve hand-pulling them or using a pre-emergent, such as corn meal gluten.
Is there a pet-safe weed killer that won’t kill grass?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any selective weed killers on the market that we’d consider 100% safe for pets.
Is there a pet-safe way to kill grass?
Salt- or vinegar-based solutions will often kill grass. If used properly, they shouldn’t present a serious threat to your pet’s health.
What is the best pet-safe weed killer for vegetable gardens?
Most pet-safe, vinegar-based weed killers should work fine for vegetable gardens (provided that you are careful during application — vinegar will kill your crops). However, because it is labelled for organic use, we’d recommend using Energen Carolina LLC Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer.
Alternatively, you want to use a Preen Pre-Emergent Weed Preventer, which is primarily made from corn meal and also labelled as organic.
It is possible to keep your yard mostly free of weeds in a manner that’s also safe for your pooch. Just be sure to use a weed-killer that’s safe for dogs and apply it in a safe, sensible manner.
Have you figured out a weed-management strategy that’s effective, while still being safe for your pet? We’d love to hear all about it! Tell us about your preferred products and techniques in the comments below.
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