A six-year study has revealed that synthetic lawn care products may be harmful to dogs. Researchers at Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine found that dogs who were exposed to lawn pesticides such as toxic herbicides and chemical fertilizers were at a greater risk for developing canine malignant lymphoma (CML) by as much as 70 percent. Dogs weighing 50 pounds and more with exposure to lawn pesticides were at the highest risk of developing CML.

A similar study performed at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Purdue University found that lawn chemicals were also responsible for canine bladder cancer. The toxins put beagles, Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, West Highland white terriers, and wire hair fox terriers, who are already genetically predisposed to bladder cancer, at an even higher risk.

Exposure to these pesticides and chemicals can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin. Because of most pesticides’ ability to become airborne for up to 50 feet, dogs who were only exposed to these chemicals through the air and not by laying on treated lawns showed the same risk of developing bladder cancer as others.

With summer right around the corner, lawn care will soon become a major focus for many homeowners. But everyone should exercise caution – not just dog owners – and find alternative solutions for their front and backyard regimen that does not involve harmful pesticides. Fertilizers are great for promoting the growth of your lawn and garden, but it certainly isn’t worth it if it’s at the cost to your and your pet’s health. Plus, the accelerated growth as a result of pesticides will only put additional strains on natural resources and people – requiring additional water and giving you more work. With so many hidden dangers in the foods we consume and the products we use, let’s be kinder to our furry friends and make the switch to organic lawn care. It doesn’t have to be difficult or costly.