Stonyfield Organic

Pets, Pollinators, and Pesticides

We know that exposure to synthetic pesticides can be bad for humans. But how often do we think about their effects on our beloved furry companions?

Dog Laying In Grass With Tennis Ball In Mouth
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.
  • 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.

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.

Bird walking on grass

so here’s some good news

A green park

We can all do something to change things up in this very dark picture. Simply put, we need to get rid of toxic persistent pesticides in our environment. Here’s a few ways to get started:
  • We can work to stop toxic pesticide use in the parks, athletic fields, playgrounds and green spaces where we live.
  • We can talk to our neighbors about becoming organic gardeners!
  • If you’re worried that your pet has been exposed, talk to your vet.  For a fee, you can also call the Pet Poison Helpline.
  • We can share with other pet owners the risks of pesticide exposure to all of our animals. This is another good reason to keep your cat indoors.
  • Consider planting a garden that will attract and be safe for bees. Check out the useful tips at
  • Or get this cool bee-smart-app that’s an excellent plant reference to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, bats, and other pollinators to the garden, farm, school and every landscape.