By simply running around at the local park or chasing squirrels in your neighbors’ sprayed gardens, your animals can be exposed to weed killing products.
They too are at risk, sometimes even more than we are. Pesticides are very easily absorbed as dogs and cats sniff their way through the world. Their innate behaviors—be it dogs chewing grass or cats licking fur—also leave them quite susceptible. Animal pesticide research shows that this exposure can be injurious to these pets we adore.
- Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine documents that pesticides are a main source for toxicity in pets, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, trouble walking, drooling, nausea, and/or tremors.
- Exposure of dogs to commonly used lawn chemicals like 2, 4-D leave residue in urine samples up to 48 hours after application, with longer times shown under specific lawn conditions such as dry grass.
- Dogs have a 70% higher risk of canine lymphoma cancer after herbicide-treated lawn exposure than dogs not exposed.
the birds and the Bees
The same pesticides making our pets deathly ill are also polluting our urban streams and groundwater, endangering fish and their wildlife prey. Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides outlined in this Beyond Pesticides Factsheet, all 30 are toxic to fish and aquatic organisms, 29 are toxic to bees, and 22 are toxic to birds.
Pesticides are taking a heavy toll on wildlife both in agricultural and urban areas. Take birds, for instance. An American Bird Conservancy study indicates that 672 million birds are exposed to pesticides annually from agricultural use, 10% of which will die from the exposure. In fact, a single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid insecticide can kill a songbird.
These same insecticides are invading the habitats of the bee population in the U.S. and well beyond. Recently, scientists gathering local honey samples from around the world discovered that the lion’s share contained neonicotinoids. Alarm bells went off at the idea of bees eating insecticide-laced pollen; some scientists worried that bees would become impaired and “suffer from learning and memory problems that hamstring their ability to gather food and sometimes threaten the health of the whole hive.”
Given that bees are responsible for pollinating the world’s fresh food supply –every 3rd bite you take requires the services of a bee—their potential impairment becomes a really important issue.