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Best Pet-Safe Weed Killers Of 2022

Written by: Elise Remp

July 28, 2022

We all want that luscious yard where the flowers are poppin’, bees are buzzin’, and the pesky weeds are deader than last year’s memes. But how do we also make sure the lawn is safe enough for our dogs to roll around and sniff out mystery snacks? It’s time we introduce you to the best pet-safe weed killers, and all the tips for keepin’ your pup safe this summer.

Are Herbicides And Weed Killers Safe To Use Around Dogs?

Well, that’s going to depend on what type of weed killer you’re using. If you’re sharing your herbicide-treated lawn with your pups and other pets, you’re going to want to use a pet-safe weed killer. Here’s the difference:

dog rolling in grass

Traditional Weed Killers

Many traditional herbicides/weed killers contain harsh chemicals—like the ones listed later in this article—that can be harmful to dogs and/or other wildlife. These should be avoided in areas you share with your pets. Using traditional weed killers is not only a concern for dogs who have a habit of foraging and taste-testing weeds, plants, and other forbidden snacks throughout your yard, but these chemicals can also be absorbed through your pet’s skin and paw pads from just a quick potty break in the treated area.

Pet-Safe Weed Killers

Newer pet-safe or pet-friendly herbicides/weed killers have nixed the toxic chemicals and replaced them with safer, all-natural ingredients such as vinegar, soap, or saltwater to effectively kill unwanted weeds and grasses. With these more natural weed killers, you can have peace of mind knowing that your furry friend is safe to romp wherever their heart desires.

Ingredients To Avoid In Weed Killer For Pet Safety

Traditional weed killers often contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs and other wildlife. The chemicals covered below are some of the more commonly used toxic ingredients in popular herbicides. Although their names are going to look like a lot of alphabet soup, they’re the kind of soup you definitely don’t want your dog eating (or rolling around in).

dog making a scrunched face

Important tip: If your dog does ingest a lawn care (or other chemical) product, contact a veterinarian or poison control before attempting any treatment at home. Do not induce vomiting! This can cause serious complications.

  • Glyphosate – Glyphosate is a commonly used ingredient in many popular herbicides. It disrupts photosynthesis, and since mammals don’t photosynthesize, it has low toxicity risks to us and dogs. However, it is combined with surfactants for application and, according to the Food And Drug Administration (FDA), these can cause intestinal and digestive issues for pets1 and children if ingested while wet; this includes vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite2.
  • 2,4-D And Mecoprop (Types Of Chlorophenoxy Herbicides) – Although this first one sounds more like the name of a robot or one of Elon Musk’s children, 2,4-D, along with Mecoprop, are types of chlorophenoxy herbicides that treat broadleaf weeds. These ingredients are common in many traditional weed killers3. Of all mammals, dogs are the most sensitive to higher doses4, and tend to have more severe intoxication symptoms including impaired muscle control and coordination, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Paraquat And Diquat (Types Of Quaternary Ammonium Herbicides) – These ingredients can cause GI issues, renal impairment, central nervous system problems, and irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, and lungs of dogs5. They are mainly used by commercially licensed individuals or companies, but that means if you have someone coming to routinely spray your property, they may be using these chemicals.

See a more complete list of toxic ingredients here. We can’t possibly cover the entire list of toxic chemicals in this article (ain’t nobody got time for that), so we’ve linked you up to a source for more information.

Symptoms Of Weed Killer/Herbicide Poisoning

If you’re ever concerned that your pup may have walked through a yard (or chowed down on some recently treated grass) that was sprayed with traditional weed killer containing toxic chemicals, here are some of the signs and symptoms to watch for:

dog wrapped ina  blanket
  • Uncontrollable drooling
  • Burns/rashes/irritation around the mouth, nose, paws
  • Stomach upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fits or seizures

If you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms, seek veterinarian attention. You can also call these animal poison control hotlines for advice, although they may charge a consultation fee:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 

How Do I Keep My Pets Safe Around Herbicides?

“Pet-safe” does NOT mean it’s safe for your dog to ingest! Always store herbicides/weed killers in a safe area out of reach of doggy snouts. Although many products in the list below use minimal ingredients, such as vinegar and water, they have the potential to make your dog sick if your pup is straight up slurping out of the container when you’re not looking.

dachshund and a keep off grass sign

Always check the ingredient list first. It’s important to read the label, make sure you understand the ingredient list, and check for any chemicals that may be toxic to your pets. Reach out to the manufacturer before using products if you have questions about ingredients—especially if you see “other inactive ingredients” not specified on the label—or you have questions about the percentage of each ingredient.

Never rely on a brand name alone when choosing a pet-safe herbicide. Some brands manufacture both pet-safe and non-pet-safe versions of herbicides. Always read the label carefully.

Follow the instructions carefully. It’s way more common than it should be to simply buy a product and start sloshing it around everywhere without ever reading the instructions. For your pets sake, don’t be that person! It takes 2 minutes to read the label.

Wait for the treated area to dry completely before allowing your pets explore the space. For most pet-safe weed killers, the area is dry after 24-48hrs.

Can You Make A Homemade Pet-Safe Weed Killer?

You can! Although they might not always work against the most stubborn backyard invaders, and may require continual re-application, ingredients in your own pantry can work double-duty as a natural, pet-safe alternative to store bought weed killers. In fact, most of the pet-safe, weed-killer products sold online use different combinations and strengths of these ingredients:

  • vinegar (try a commercial strength)
  • saltwater
  • soap

A word of warning, though: these ingredients can still cause GI upset in your dog if ingested off plants. Make sure they’re completely dry before allowing your pup free reign over the yard – again, “pet safe” doesn’t mean “no problems at all!”

Best Pet-Safe Weed Killers

1. Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed And Grass Killer

BUY HERE, $16.99 (quart)-$124.99 (5 gallon) from The Natural Weed Killer
BUY HERE, $41.99 (2 quart)-$139.99 (5 gallon) from Amazon

Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed And Grass Killer (4.3 star review rating) uses 3 simple ingredients—ocean saltwater, soap, and vinegar—for its fast weed-killin’ power with visible results within hours. This all-natural formula has been efficacy-tested by the University of Florida and kills over 250 types of weeds and grasses down to the root, while keeping your yard pup-safe all year round!

Ingredients: ocean saltwater, soap, vinegar

Why We Like It:
3 natural, non-toxic ingredients
Pet-Safe
Safe for groundwater and wildlife
Ready to use, no mixing required
Free of glyphosate
Biodegradable
Made in the USA

2. Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer

Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Photos via Green Gobbler website

BUY HERE, $8.99 (32oz)-134.99 (5 gallon) from Green Gobbler
BUY HERE, $26.98 (gallon)-$99.98 (5 gallon) from Amazon

Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer (4.2 star review rating) is a non-selective herbicide derived from corn, and made with 20% vinegar. Although this formula is considered pet-safe, there are warnings on the label to wait 48 hours before entering the area that you sprayed. Green Gobbler weed killer effectively gobbles up and snuffs out dandelions, crabgrass, mold, and all types of weeds and grasses. It is OMRI-listed and approved for organic use, so you can maintain your backyard garden paradise without worry!

Ingredients: Acetic acid (vinegar) and water

Why We Like It:
Pet-Safe (after 48hrs)
Free of glyphosate
Free of sulphates, bleach, dyes or chloride
OMRI-approved for organic use
Ready to use, no mixing required
Biodegradable
Made in the USA

3. ECO Living Solutions Organic Weed And Grass Killer

BUY HERE, $26.95 (gallon) from Eco Garden
BUY HERE, $26.95 (gallon) from Amazon

ECO Garden PRO Organic Vinegar Weed Killer (4.1 star review rating) uses only 3 natural ingredients to kill weeds and grasses—including moss, clover, dandelions, poison ivy and everything in between. It’s also safe for groundwater and wildlife. We love that and so do the bees!

Ingredients: acetic acid (concentrated vinegar), sodium chloride (salt), and water

Why We Like It:
Pet-Safe and kid-safe (wait until area is dry)
Safe for groundwater, bees, fish, and livestock
All natural, non-toxic ingredients
Ready to use, no mixing required
100% phosphate-free
100% biodegradable
Free of glyphosate
Manufactured in the USA

4. Natural Elements Weed Killer

Natural Elements Weed Killer

BUY HERE, $19.99 (quart)-$69.99 (2.5 gallon) from Natural Elements
BUY HERE, $27.99 (gallon) from Amazon

Natural Elements Weed Killer (4.2 star review rating) is a powerful, yet natural herbicide derived from commercial-strength vinegar. It’s strong enough to kill the most annoying weeds, like clover, crabgrass, thistle and broadleaf in 24hrs or less, but it’s gentle and safe enough for your pets and kids to play in the yard once it’s dried.

Ingredients: sodium chloride (salt), water, commercial vinegar, sodium lauryl sulphate (soap)

Why We Like It:
Pet-Safe (wait a few hours for it to dry)
Safe for groundwater, bees, and wildlife
Ready to use, no mixing required
All natural, non-toxic ingredients
100% biodegradable
Free of glyphosate
Made in the USA

5. Natural Armor All-Natural Weed and Grass Killer

BUY HERE, $28.95 (gallon)-$599.00 (drum) from Natural Armor
BUY HERE, $26.95 (gallon)-$59.90 (2.5 gallon) from Amazon

Natural Armor Weed and Grass Killer (4 star review rating) is made with only natural ingredients, and absolutely no poisonous chemicals, making it safe for use around pets. With that being said, the directions do mention to avoid contact with skin while applying, so you’re going to want to make sure this is dry before allowing your pets in the treated area for potty breaks or playtime. Natural Armor is a concentrated formula that works on over 250 types of pesky weeds or grasses with visible results in 24hrs.

Ingredients: Sodium Chloride (salt), Citric Acid, Clove Oil, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (soap), Water, Vinegar, Glycerine, Lemon Juice

Why We Like It:
Pet-Safe (wait until area is dry)
All natural, non-toxic
Free of glyphosate
Does not affect ground water
Ready to use, no mixing required
Safe near wild birds, fish, mammals
Biodegradable
Manufactured in the USA with all USA sourced ingredients

6. OrganicMatters Natural Weed Killer Spray

OrganicMatters Natural Weed Killer Spray

BUY HERE, $26.95 (gallon) from Amazon

OrganicMatters Natural Weed Killer Spray (4.3 star review rating) is an all-natural, glyphosate-free, organic weed killer that’s safe for pets and wildlife, but tough on any unwanted weed-intruders in your garden or yard. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of information out there about this brand, however Organic Matters seems to be an Amazon-specific brand from the makers of Natural Armor (listed above).

Ingredients: vinegar, sodium chloride (salt), clove oil, lemon juice, sodium lauryl sulfate (soap) and water. 

Why We Like It:
Pet-safe
Free of glyphosate
All natural, non-toxic ingredients
Safe for wildlife and groundwater
Ready to use, no mixing required

7. Harris 20% Vinegar Weed Killer

Harris 20% Vinegar Weed Killer

BUY HERE, $10.99 (quart) from Harris
BUY HERE, $29.99 (gallon) from Amazon

Harris 20% Vinegar Weed Killer (4.2 star review rating) is 4x stronger than your average household vinegar to get rid of even your most stubborn weeds and unwanted grasses. This glyphosate-free formula is made of all natural ingredients that are safe for use around pets and wildlife. The ingredients listed on the bottle only mention 20% vinegar and 80% “other” ingredients, but after reaching out to the manufacturer, we were told that the other 80% is simply water.

Ingredients: vinegar and water

Why We Like It:
Pet-safe
Glyphosate-free
OMRI-listed approved for organic use

8. Energen Carolina LLC Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer

Energen Carolina LLC Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer

BUY HERE, $15.99 (quart)-$25.99 (gallon) from Amazon

Energen Carolina LLC Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer is an all-natural weed killer using only commercial strength vinegar to get the job done. You’ll notice the ingredients listed on the bottle as 20% acetic acid (vinegar) and 80% “other”, but after some searching through the Amazon Q&A section, it’s apparent that the “other” ingredients are simply water. That makes this product safe for pets, wildlife, and areas surrounding organic produce. Just wait for it to dry after application and you’re good to go!

Ingredients: vinegar and water

Why We Like It:
Ingredients are simply commercial strength vinegar and water
Pet-safe, and safe for wildlife
Glyphosate-free
Safe for use around organic produce

9. Just For Pets Pet-Safe Weed Killer

BUY HERE, $29.95 (gallon) from Amazon

There isn’t a great deal of info to be found online about the Just For Pets company, but after some digging it seems to be manufactured by Natural Armor—the makers of another pet-safe weed killer mentioned in this list. After scouring through their Amazon FAQ section we found that Just For Pets, Pet-Safe Weed Killer (3.9 star review rating) uses all natural ingredients to quickly and thoroughly kill unwanted grasses and weeds, while remaining safe for pets and wildlife. We’re also a huge fan of the fact that portions of each sale are donated to animal shelters around the U.S! *tail wags*

Ingredients: Acetic Acid (vinegar), Citric Acid (naturally occurring in citrus fruits), Sodium Chloride (salt), Glycerin (sugar alcohol), Clove Oil, Lemon Juice 

Why We Like It:
Pet-Safe (wait a few hours for it to dry)
Safe for groundwater, bees, and wildlife
All natural, non-toxic ingredients
Ready to use, no mixing required
Free of glyphosate
Portion of sales support shelter animals
Made in the USA

This article has been reviewed by Margo Hennet, DVM.

Margo Hennet, DVM, cVMA, and veterinarian at BARK is a canine nutrition, health, & wellness connoisseur. She has a combined 10 years of experience in clinical medicine, research, and education—that’s 70 dog years of know-how—and graduated from Colorado State University as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She completed specialized training in internal medicine prior to working as a general practitioner in Colorado, has authored peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters, holds certification in veterinary medical acupuncture, and is a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and American Veterinary Medical Association.


Sources:

1 “Questions and Answers on Glyphosate.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 28 Feb. 2022, https://www.fda.gov/food/pesticides/questions-and-answers-glyphosate

2 Henderson, A. M.; Gervais, J. A.; Luukinen, B.; Buhl, K.; Stone, D.; Cross, A.; Jenkins, J. 2010. Glyphosate General Fact Sheet; National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University Extension Services. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html.

3“2,4-D.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 8 Mar. 2022, https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/24-d

4Gupta, Ramesh C.; Crissman, James W. “Chlorophenoxy Herbicide.” ScienceDirect , Haschek and Rousseaux’s Handbook of Toxicologic Pathology (Third Edition), 2013, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/chlorophenoxy-herbicide

5Gupta, P. K. “Organic Herbicides Toxic to Animals – Toxicology.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 7 July 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/herbicide-poisoning/organic-herbicides-toxic-to-animals

Written by: Elise Remp

July 28, 2022