Researchers from Purdue University and the University of North Carolina combined data to analyze the effects of lawn chemicals on the health of pet dogs. Their findings prove that pet owners should be more cautious about herbicides that are not only used on their own lawns, but also grassy areas that they visit with their dogs.

The research team applied common herbicides — including 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), 4-chloro-2-methylphenoxypropionic acid (MCPP), and dicamba — to grassy areas in various conditions including green, dry brown, wet, and recently mowed grass. All three chemicals remained detectable for up to 48 hours after application and even longer under certain conditions.

In a separate analysis, researchers tested the urine of both dogs whose owners applied lawn chemicals and those whose owners did not apply lawn chemicals. Results showed that the three types of herbicides involved in the study were detected in 14 of 25 households before lawn treatment and 19 of 25 households after lawn treatment. These chemicals were also detected in half of all untreated households, Mother Nature News reported.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) can lead to blood, liver, and kidney toxicity. Experimental use on animals has showed adverse effects on eye, thyroid, kidney, adrenal, and ovaries/testes function. Exposure has also been known to affect neurological development in humans and animals.

An obvious solution for protecting your pets from herbicides and other harmful lawn chemicals is keeping them away from areas treated with products, such as Roundup. As this study demonstrates, sometimes the problem is not the owner's lawn or a lawn in their neighborhood, but a grassy area that the dog visits while on a walk.

Due to this reality, always keep an eye on your pet when it's outside, especially if it's not wearing a leash. If you do lose sight of your pet, check if the area you find it in has been treated with harmful chemicals. If the animal is experiencing any type of health concerns including vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures, notify the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center.

The ASPCA also suggests you acquire a first-aid kit specifically tailored to meet the needs of your pet should an accidental poisoning take place. The specialized kit should include:

1. Hydrogen peroxide with three percent USP to induce vomiting, which can rid your pet's body of harmful chemicals soon after being ingested.

2. Turkey baster to administer the peroxide solution.

3. Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid to remove chemicals from the dog's skin after contamination.

4. A muzzle to protect against a fear- or excitement-induced bite.

5. A can of wet food.

6. A pet carrier for transportation if the dog needs further medical attention.

Source: Peer W, Conteh A, Diggs A, Cooper B, Glickman L, Knapp D. Detection of herbicides in the urine of pet dogs following home lawn chemical application. Science of The Total Environment. 2013.