Even the most ardent organic gardeners cannot argue with the efficiency and effectiveness of chemical weed killers. These chemicals eliminate competition for water and soil nutrition, among a host of other benefits. Unfortunately, though, a lot of property owners are also pet owners, and the use of chemical herbicides presents a whole set of potential problems.
Guide to Buying Pet Safe Weed Killers
We are going to look at five options you can get in-store or online, and then we’ll discuss the nitty gritty of pet friendly weed killers. And if a store-bought solution doesn’t interest you, we’ve got several DIY weed killer ideas that are safe for your dogs.
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If you’re in a hurry, here are our top picks for pet friendly weed killers. You can read in-depth about each one further below. Also, be sure to check out our complete buyer’s guide below to learn about all aspects of pet safe weed killers.
Pet safe weed killers are primarily based on organic ingredients that will not have a serious impact on the environment in your yard. The makeup of these kinds of weed killer ensure there is very little risk to animals if they are inhaled, touched, or even consumed.
The general theme with the products below is the absence of glyphosate, a chemical that has been a key ingredient for most traditional weed killers.
Pet safe weed killers, though beneficial, are not free from drawbacks.
Susceptibility to water erosion, the difficulty of application, as well as potential weed resistance are just some of the negatives you may encounter.
Most of the products below must be used in clear weather to minimize water erosion. Pets must also be kept away during the application, especially if the weed killer in question needs time to dry.
How They Work
These products work by inhibiting a plant’s ability to sustain itself in some way.
Most of the vinegar-based weed killers dry out plants by forcing them to lose moisture content. Corn gluten-based products prevent weed roots from taking hold during germination.
Also, some grasses are better than others for dogs, so be sure to learn about them when trying to cultivate the perfect lawn for your pet.
Our Picks for the 5 Best Pet Safe Weed Killers
The following is a list of pet-friendly alternatives to traditional weed killers.
Just For Pets Weed Killer Spray – Best Overall
- 🐶 NATURAL - NO Glyphosate. Our Product Includes Natural Ingredients.
- 🐱 WE'RE PET LOVERS TOO - Our Pets Are Like Our Children. Truth Be Told We Like Our Pets More Than Some People. We Will Do Anything For Them.
- 🐕 COMMUNITY MINDED - A Portion of Each Sale is Donated To Animal Shelters Nationwide.
Natural Armor has been displaying its commitment to environmental protection for a while now. Its Just For Pets Weed Killer Spray encapsulates everything the brand represents.
This weed killer is based on an all-natural formula that does not contain glyphosate. This means you can freely spray it in all of your pets’ favorite play areas without any worries. Driveways, patios, fences, you name it. Just a few of the best places to apply this wonderful weed killer.
The product is ready to spray from the factory, with no mixing or diluting necessary. The ergonomic spray bottles are very easy to use and Natural Armor offers a refillable 128 oz bottle for your added convenience.
Simply aim at one of the 250 types of weed it was made to combat and voilà…no more weeds and, more importantly, no worries about harm to kids or pets. Results can be expected within 24-48 hours.
Animal lovers will also be pleased to learn that Natural Armor donates a percentage of proceeds from Just for Pets Weed Killer to animal shelters all across the United States.
Espoma Organic Weed Preventer – Best for Weed Prevention
- Made from corn gluten meal
- Feeds lawns to ensure a deep, green color and prevents weeds by inhibiting root development in seedlings
- Apply twice per year, early spring and fall
Espoma’s Organic Weed Preventer is another excellent choice for pet owners.
Espoma Organic Weed Preventer is made from a glyphosate-free formula, with 100% corn gluten meal being the main ingredient. This means that children and animals can begin playing on the lawn immediately after its application without suffering from toxic effects.
This anti-weed solution comes in nitrogen-rich granules that can be applied to your lawn 2-3 times per year.
As the name suggests, this product is a weed preventer, not necessarily a killer. For it to be effective, it should be applied to all weed “hot spots” before they emerge. When applied correctly, weeds like dandelions and crabgrass will likely not grow. Your lawn should develop a rich green color and your pets should be safer.
Natural Armor Weed and Grass Killer – Most Versatile
- ✅CONTAINS NO GLYPHOSATE - Natural, Concentrated Formula STOPS Weeds and Grasses Right in Their Tracks. Weeds and Grass Will Look Like You Took A...
- ✅ EASY TO USE – Friendly for People & Pets. Ready To Use, Just Spray and Go. No Messy Mixing or Diluting.
- ✅ PLACES TO USE – Use Anywhere You Don’t Want Weeds and Grass Growing Such As, Around Flower Beds, Shrubs and Trees, Barns, Driveways, Edging,...
Yet another strong product from Natural Armor.
The brand’s All-Natural Weed and Grass Killer is an eco-friendly herbicide that has earned rave reviews by gardeners all over North America.
This fast-acting liquid herbicide is available in one gallon, 2.5 gallon, and 32-ounce containers with a spray nozzle. Like the Just for Pets weed killer we touched on earlier, All-Natural Weed and Grass Killer does not need to be diluted or mixed. It’s ready to spray straight from the bottle.
The product is based on a non-toxic formula that is free from glyphosate and other toxic substances. It contains vinegar, and a whole assortment of organic essential oils, glycerin, and other nutrients. It does not affect dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, or any other animals that may interact with your garden.
When it comes to Natural Armor’s All-Natural Weed and Grass Killer, the whole yard is fair game. Spray everywhere from your vegetable gardens, walkways, poolside lounging areas, and more.
Natural Armor’s 30-day money back guarantee makes choosing it easier. All-Natural Weed and Grass Killer is a solid option.
- Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer is a quick-acting, non-selective contact herbicide. Use on crabgrass, clover, dandelions, and ground ivy.
- Safe to use for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural application. Apply where weeds and grass are not wanted. Use on driveways,...
- This product is concentrated and is safe when used according to label directions. Once dry, areas where application was made can be used by pets and...
If you’re in the market for an organic weed killer, Energen Carolina has you covered.
The company’s Energen Carolina Vinegar Weed Killer is a noteworthy inclusion in this list. As the name suggests, this herbicide makes use of vinegar as its primary ingredient, with devastating consequences for weeds. Unwanted grasses and weeds will begin wilting away within minutes of contact.
Usually, chemicals with such effectiveness come with the downside of being highly toxic…but not this time. Energen Carolina Vinegar Weed Killer does not contain glyphosate or any other chemicals that may be harmful to people or animals, making it a viable (and organic) alternative to traditional weed killers.
You can opt for a standard bottle or a spray bottle, with either choice coming with a pre-mixed solution that does not require further dilution. All you need to do is go out on a dry day and spray problem areas. Applying the product on rainy days will reduce its effectiveness due to chemical run-off.
Kids and pets can freely play in the yard again once the weed killer has dried, and you can rest easy in the knowledge that they are safe.
Some bird species may be affected by the smell of vinegar though, so bird-lovers might want to steer clear.
Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed and Grass Killer – Budget option
- CERTIFIED FOR ORGANIC USE — Completely eliminates and desiccates weeds and grasses without using toxic chemicals. Made straight from corn grown in...
- KILLS WEEDS FAST — Eliminate any type of weed in just a matter of hours. Expect full desiccation in less than 24 hours. Green Gobbler contains 20%...
- POWERFUL FORMULA — NO cancer-causing chemicals. Glyphosate-free. 20% formula is four times stronger than traditional table vinegar. Made strictly...
Lastly, we have another vinegar-based solution.
Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed and Grass Killer is an ideal choice for homeowners with pooches who love rolling around in the grass.
The 20% vinegar concentrate is arguably the most effective weed killer on this list, as it can wilt even the toughest weeds in just a few hours. All you have to do is aim the spray attachment nozzle and squeeze.
The product has been certified as organic by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), with a glyphosate-free formula that will not disturb the ecosystem in your backyard. Your dogs, and any other animals, should not be affected.
Like most of the other weed killers in this list, Green Gobbler’s offering is very versatile. It can be applied anywhere, from patios to sheds, driveways, and flowerbeds.
If you’re looking for an affordable solution to dandelions, clovers, moss, and other frustrating weeds, look no further than Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed and Grass Killer.
How Do Pet-Safe Weed Killers Work?
Pet safe weed killers work by eliminating weeds or preventing their growth altogether.
Of course, traditional weed killers operate in the same way but the difference is that, with the pet-friendly options, you don’t get any toxic ingredients. As you can see from the list above, substances like glyphosate, sulfates, fluorine, or even bleach are hardly used in eco-friendly weed killers due to their potential impact on ecosystems, animals, and even people.
Instead, these weed killers make use of organic ingredients like vinegar and corn gluten to curb the threat of weeds. Vinegar, for example, speeds up water loss from weeds, causing them to wilt and die out. Quite a few of the products listed above are based on a vinegar formula and they all work similarly.
Weed “killers” based on corn gluten formulas play a preventative role in weed management. Corn gluten, if applied before weeds germinate, will stifle their roots before they take hold. This effectively “chokes” the weeds out before they can reach maturity and cause problems.
How Do Conventional Weed Killers with Glyphosate (Roundup) Work?
Conventional (or non-pet-friendly) weed killers are made up of a wide variety of chemical substances that stop growing weeds in their tracks.
One of these chemical substances is glyphosate, an organophosphorus compound that goes by many different names in the market. Zero, No Grow, and, of course, Round-up are just a few glyphosate-based weed killers available today. Although it is made for killing weeds, glyphosate will kill all other plant life it comes into contact with, so be warned.
Typically, these weed killers are sprayed onto targeted plants. The glyphosate then infiltrates the leaves and moves down to the roots, where it inhibits nutrient absorption. When this happens, the plant will not be able to respire or produce food to sustain itself, which causes it to wilt up and die.
Dangers of Conventional Chemical Weed Killers
While conventional weed killers are still used in the U.S. and beyond, new research continues to uncover a few problems with some of the key ingredients.
Glyphosate, in particular, has been found to be especially problematic. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the popular chemical has been linked to worrying health problems in humans and animals.
Human cancer incidences in areas where crops treated with glyphosate are consumed have gone up considerably over the last few decades. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the major cancers that has been on the rise during that time, with focused studies in Argentina pointing to a clear link between glyphosate and tumors.
The findings from animal studies have been even worse.
Lab rats exposed to the chemical through feed have been found to develop tumors and severe DNA damage. Additionally, bio-mechanisms that are meant to naturally prevent this damage may also be negatively affected.
Glyphosate weed killers have also been linked to birth defects such as hollow bones and other skeletal deformities in humans. Studies on rats seemingly prove this link, with pregnant females that were exposed to the chemical giving birth to litters of developmentally stunted young. Pups in these litters would frequently die, and those that managed to survive were found to be sterile.
Some rats might not even give birth. Spontaneous miscarriages were also a common finding among pregnant rats who were healthy before exposure to glyphosate.
Additionally, male rat pups whose mothers were exposed to glyphosate were found to exhibit “abnormal sexual behavior”, severely reduced sperm counts, and premature or delayed puberty.
Other problems found in lab rats include enlarged testes, deformed vertebra, and severely stunted endocrine function. Also, rats exposed to glyphosate were found to be three times as likely to die as rats that were not exposed to the herbicide.
All of these study findings are definitely not pleasant reading for any pet owners, as most or all of the above effects can just as easily affect your dog, cat, and any other animals in your yard. Heck, some of these conventional herbicides may even harm kids!
How to Properly Use Pet Safe Weed Killers to Minimize Risk to Your Dog
There are various ways to make use of pet-friendly weed killers without harming your dog.
Most of the products listed here have very simple instructions for their application. Due to their chemical composition, most of these products pose no threat to most healthy animals.
However, if your pets have underlying conditions, or if you just want to play it extra safe, you can close them off indoors or in your garage while you apply the herbicide and wait for it to dry.
You can also dilute liquid herbicides further to reduce their concentrations. Be careful with this though, as you could seriously weaken your product’s ability to kill weeds.
DIY Pet-Safe Ways to Kill Weeds
Some people may feel that the best way to kill weeds without harming their pets is to create their own homemade weed killer. The following is a brief list of household items that you can use to deal with weeds in your garden.
As we discussed earlier in the article, vinegar is an awesome substitute for conventional herbicides. A few sprays of the substance will cause weeds to lose their moisture content via osmosis. Dogs and cats are not affected by vinegar at all, but birds may not like the smell of high concentrations.
Applying salt is a good way of making the soil underneath your weeds hostile to plant life. The excess sodium is absorbed by plant roots and dries up the weeds from the inside.
Using boiling water is arguably the easiest way to kill weeds, especially if they are concentrated in one spot. Weeds will die upon contact and you won’t have to worry about any nasty chemicals harming your pets.
With public consciousness regarding the dangers of traditional weed killers on the rise, many home and pet owners are turning to more organic solutions to rid themselves of their weed problems. Products like Just for Pets, and others in this article are simply the safest option for our animal pals.