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Best Pet-Safe Weed Killers and Pesticides for Pet Safety in 2021

Our team independently researches and recommends the best pet products for you and your furry friends. Note: This post may contain affiliate links.

You spent weeks tending to your lawn and garden. You nurtured those baby plants through early frosts and harsh storms. But what’s that creeping along the fence line. Is that a WEED? You know that leafy invader isn’t alone. Oh, yeah – there’s some nasty crabgrass sneaking along the driveway. And are those ANTS? They’ve got to go. But your dog goes outside. Maybe they even snack on the grass (our dog thinks she’s part-cow). Anything you put out might get on the grass. You don’t want your dog to get sick from a toxic weed killer or pesticide. Those weeds and ants are spreading, though. Time to invest in the best pet-safe weed killers and pesticides for your household.

Pet-Safe Weed Killers and Pesticides: Labels

When you’re considering pet-safe weed killers and pesticides, you need to take the time to look at the labels on the bottle. It’s tempting to fall for hype such as “chemical-free,” but the reality is EVERYTHING is a chemical.

What you want to avoid are TOXIC compounds:

  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyoacetic acid (2,4-D)
  • Glyphosphate
  • Sethoxydim

Yes, these compounds are champions when it comes to tackling crabgrass and crawling pests, but they’re also at the top of the list of toxins. Most parts of the world ban their use. They’re THAT toxic.

2,4-D

People like products with 2,4-D because the chemical works on weeds without hurting the surrounding grasses. It targets broad-leaved plants, causing them to grow improperly. Without proper nutrients, they quickly die.

But dogs and cats exposed to 2.4-D end up extremely ill. A quick lick of grass treated with a product can lead to GI upset, loss of balance, and even convulsions! And 2,4-D stays on grass for THREE DAYS! That’s a long time to keep your dog off the lawn.

Glyphosphate

You may not recognize the chemical glyphosate, but you probably know Roundup. It’s a popular weed killer, but it’s SO potent, it’ll kill ANY plant it comes in contact with. It prevents the formation of an enzyme plants need to survive called EPSP. And while animals and humans don’t produce EPSP, glyphosate also raised cancer concerns.

Glyphosphate’s SO toxic, it’s banned around the world. You can’t use it in Miami or the Netherlands. And if you see bans crop up? You KNOW that isn’t pet-safe in the slightest.

Sethoxydim

Sethoxydim targets one of the other problem plants people deal with: crabgrass. It won’t work on plants with broad leaves, but it kills grasses nicely. A growth inhibitor, you see results within 48 hours.

And while it isn’t as toxic as some chemicals, dogs and cats can experience anemia at high doses. 

Finding Pet-Safe Weed Killers and Pesticides

If you want to make sure you have pet-safe weed killers or pesticides, you need to do a little homework. You’re looking for ingredients that feature vinegar, dish soap, or corn gluten. They pull moisture out of the plants or prevent seeds from sprouting. And while they’re not tops on your dog or cat’s diet list, they also aren’t toxic.

Luckily, things aren’t too complicated. You only need to look for one of two certifications:

  • Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

If these organizations have passed the product, odds are they’re pet-safe weed killers and pesticides. Will they be as strong as synthetic compounds? No, but they also won’t pose harm. That’s your trade-off.

The “All-Natural” Trap of Pet-Safe Weed Killers and Pesticides

Everyone loves seeing “all-natural” and “organic” on products, especially when it comes to pet-safe weed killers and pesticides. But there’s a catch. Plenty of compounds out there (even with OMRI and EPA approval) come from natural sources, but they’re not the safest things in the world when it comes to pets.

Pyrethrin is the synthetic version of the compound produced by chrysanthemums. Insects avoid the flowers. And all of the following ingredients are considered “all-natural” due to their pyrethrin origin:

  • Bifenthrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Deltamethrin

But cats CAN’T go anywhere near pyrethrin. And dogs shouldn’t ingest the liquid in high doses, either.

The “pet-safe” label goes on a label if the product dries quickly. But if the resulting chemical remains a problem after drying, you still need to worry. And the mist or fumes from a spray could irritate. So even if something’s natural or organic, make sure it’s safe for use around your pets. Or keep them out of the way when you’re spraying and waiting for everything to dry.

Non-Chemical Pet-Safe Weed Killers

Do you HATE the idea of any kind of chemical – organic or otherwise? That’s understandable. After all, even essential oils have the potential for harm. If those encroaching weeds are making you twitch, but you want to keep your dogs and cats safe, you DO have options.

Hand-Pulling Weeds

That’s right – good old elbow grease. This method of killing weeds is 100% pet-safe. It’s not exactly fun (unless you enjoy that kind of thing), and it takes more time than other methods. However, if you stay on top of things, it IS successful. There are a variety of tools available to assist you and save your hands. This method even works on those pesky dandelions. Just make sure your dog doesn’t observe you and decide to pitch in and start digging!

Boiling Water

Heating a pot of water to the boiling point and dousing weeds with the result is another option. The weeds die within a day. This method of weed-killing is ONLY pet-safe if you keep your pets OUT of the way while you work. (Please, no burns!) The downside to this method is boiling water kills ALL plants. So you can only use boiling water away from your lawn. It’s great for the driveway, but those dandelions in the middle of the yard are safe. Also, you need to keep YOURSELF safe from potential burns.

Plant Warfare

This pet-safe weed-killing method involves research and plant know-how. Allelopathic plants produce airborne chemicals that kill other plants. You simply add them to your garden and watch the weeds shrivel up. It’s not the fastest process, but it’s completely natural. Just make sure you find plants that target weeds and NOT the other plants in your garden.

Proper Use of Pet-Safe Weed Killers and Pesticides

You’ve checked the label, you’re confident you have pet-safe weed killers and pesticides, and you’ve decided today is eviction day for those weeds or creepy crawlies. Pet-safe weed killers and pesticides or not, you need to observe some precautions. Remember, a chemical is a chemical. You need to keep your pets as safe as possible.

  1. Read the instructions. Every product has a specific amount for proper use. Too much doesn’t make it work better or faster, but it WILL increase the safety risk.
  2. Keep your pets out of the area. If you’re working outside, your pets need to stay inside. Pet-safe or not, you don’t want them to ingest these products.
  3. Avoid wind. The wind will carry your product where you DON’T want it. A lot of pet-safe weed killers aren’t specific. Unless you’re aiming to destroy the entire lawn (not likely), wait for a day without wind. Besides, do you want to bathe in the weed killer or pesticide? Probably not.
  4. Avoid wet days. This isn’t a safety issue, just an effectiveness issue. Water dilutes chemicals. Using a product when rain is sitting on the plant wastes your time and effort.
  5. Keep your pets away for 24 hours. Most of these compounds need time to take effect. Unless the label specifies how long to keep pets out of the area, 24 hours is your best bet.

Best Pet-Safe Weed Killers and Pesticides

No one likes weeds. Even if you don’t mind insects and arachnids, odds are you don’t appreciate it when they invade your house. You want to keep these invaders at bay, but you don’t want to risk your pets or yourself. Luckily, there are manufacturers out there heeding the call for pet-safe weed killers and pesticides.

Best Pet-Safe Weed Preventer

Maybe you don’t have weeds yet. However, the very thought of those weeds encroaching on your hard work is giving you hives. Good thing you can STOP them from cropping up in the first place!

Don’t worry, Espoma has you covered. Espoma is a corn gluten meal that doubles as a lawn feeder. It helps keep your lawn healthy and green while stopping dandelions, crabgrass, and other weeds from forming roots. Sprinkle the granules on your lawn twice a year (spring and fall are the recommendations), and rest easy that weeds will never gain a foothold.

Downsides? People weren’t wild about the smell, but local wildlife found it appealing. (Probably NOT what you want for your beautiful lawn) This ONLY works on the grass, so you’ll need something else if you have a garden. Also, if you already have weeds, you’re out of luck – it doesn’t work.

The Good

The Bad

Best Pet-Safe Weed Killers

All right, so the weeds have already invaded. Those sneaky plants have infiltrated the lawn, the garden, and they’re even pushing up through the driveway. You’re ready to wage war – safely, without posing a risk to your pets. We’ve got your arsenal ready with these pet-safe weed killers.

Want to understand exactly what’s in your pet-safe weed killer? Dr. Kirchner to the rescue! There are just four ingredients: salt, water, vinegar, and soap. The salt is the star of this particular product, desiccating the plant. The sizes range from a quart up to five gallons, with an extended shelf-life (if you want that five-gallon jug). The spray nozzles make application a breeze, and there’s no need to worry about staining on hard surfaces, like your driveway.

Downsides? Again, this is a non-specific weed killer. You’ll kill any plant you spray, so avoid your lawn like the plague. People also complained the nozzle tended to leak, so be VERY careful where you’re spraying. While salt is useful for killing plants, it’s terrible for soil and runoff, so consider whether your environmental impact is worth the weed-killing spree.

The Good

The Bad

Everyone wants to make sure they’re using pet-safe weed killers. How about a product that’s also bee-safe, though? That’s where ECO Garden comes in. Using vinegar, rock salt, and plant activators that biodegrade naturally, this product won’t harm bees, and it’s safe for the groundwater. You don’t need to dilute it, and it goes to work in 24 hours. You can even dispatch nasty poison ivy!

The downsides? You might have guessed; this isn’t plant-specific. So take care where you spray things. Something that gets tricky since there’s no sprayer with the jug. And trying to transfer to your bottle can get messy (maybe don’t do that over the lawn). It’s also not the strongest formula out there, as weeds tend to pop back up rather quickly, resulting in retreatment.

The Good

The Bad

Green Gobbler isn’t your household vinegar. Oh, no – this is 20% acetic acid (plus some ethanol), or FOUR TIMES more acidic than what you might drizzle on a salad. It starts desiccating those pesky weeds in the first 24 hours. There aren’t any nasty chemicals, either, so you’re free to use it around any organic gardening. And if you’re not happy? Green Gobbler offers a 30-day money-back guarantee!

So what are the downsides? This pet-safe weed killer isn’t plant-specific, so you need to watch where you spray. You can easily kill your grass or flowers in the process, otherwise. Some people also saw problems with their driveway and front walks due to the acid. And you need to keep your dogs and cats away while the spray’s wet – it’s too acidic to remain safe.

The Good

The Bad

Do you have a variety of weeds? Then, Natural Armor is the choice for you. Their mixture of vinegar, citrus, sodium, essential oils, glycerin, and water target over 250 types of weeds and grasses! No need to dilute or mix the liquid – just twist the nozzle and spray. They provide multiple sizes, just in case you have a massive invasion to cope with. Even better, every bottle comes with a 100% money-back guarantee!

Downsides? Well, when you aim to kill 250 weeds and grasses, odds are you’ll take out some plants people want to keep. This product is another non-specific plant killer. This was also another bottle with spray nozzle leakage complaints, so be careful with your spraying. People noted the smell lingered for a while, and not everyone appreciated the scent.

The Good

The Bad

Ready to give up with all of these non-specific weed killers? Don’t worry, Ortho’s got you. You may be wary about an active ingredient of ammonium nonanoate, but Ortho has OMRI approval. (Just wash it off if you get any on you; it’s water-soluble) Ortho works on all kinds of grass and weeds. The handy applicator lets you spray it directly onto the pesky weed, which starts to die within 15 minutes. If you prefer, concentrate is available so you can dilute to the concentration you want. Best of all, it’s safe for use on the driveway, around landscaping, and vegetable beds!

The downside? It isn’t the strongest pet-safe weed killer out there. You may need to employ more than one application to eradicate the weeds.

The Good

The Bad

Best Pet-Safe Pesticides

You’ve handled the battle outside, and now it’s time to tackle the inside. You know insects and arachnids are essential. You’re aware they serve a vital function on this planet. You just don’t want those functions carried out in your house. So if your arm’s about to fall off from wielding the fly-swatter (face it – not effective against a lot of creepy-crawlies), or your cat is a failure at bug patrol (mine’s available for rent – reasonable prices), it’s time to consider these pet-safe pesticides.

Want to keep those crawlies from getting into the house in the first place? Eco Defense works in and out of the house. The active ingredients are geranium oil, cedarwood oil, and sodium lauryl sulfate – all pet-safe. It kills a wide range of pests instantly (cockroaches, ants, fleas, earwigs, stinkbugs, mites, silverfish, spiders, and scorpions), and it repels those same invaders for up to 14 days. You’ll feel confident deploying Eco Defense – professional exterminators developed the formula! There’s no risk of staining fabrics, either, so feel free to wield it around carpets.

Downsides? There is a distinct odor when you first spray the formula, though it does disperse. Those essential oils only last 7-14 days, so expect to refresh trouble areas.

The Good

The Bad

Don’t let the “Bed Bug Killer” label throw you. EcoRaider works well on any kind of pest that’s invaded your home. They have USDA certification as a bio-based product, using cedarwood oil. Not only does it get the pet-safe pesticide seal of approval, but you can also safely use it around birds and fish, too (the other pets in the household sensitive to sprayed chemicals). You can safely use it on being and carpets without leaving any stains.

The downsides? The cedar oils only last around 7-14 days. That means you’ll need to reapply things regularly to keep the bugs at bay. And the cedar scent is strong. Good for bugs, but not great for some people.

The Good

The Bad

Are you troubled by strong odors? MDX Concepts has a great alternative. Their formula of essential oils leaves a minty smell people didn’t object to. However, pests like ants, cockroaches, earwigs, fleas, mites, silverfish, spiders, and scorpions HATE mint (I bet you didn’t know that). The 16-ounce bottle has a handy trigger, and the formula works to kill pests instantly. MDX is so sure of their product, they provide a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee (not too shabby!).

So what are the downsides? MDX is excellent as a pesticide, but it WON’T repel those same tiny invaders. You’ll need another product for that. Also, if you find yourself the victim of giant cockroaches (you know the ones I mean – they bring luggage and furniture with them), you’ll need something stronger.

The Good

The Bad

If you can keep creepy-crawlies from getting into the house in the first place, isn’t that best? Ortho’s Home Defense is one of the top pet-safe pesticides for the job. They use bifenthrin and zeta-cypermethrin to repel and kill aphids, caterpillars, centipedes, stink bugs, and potentially even termites (plus plenty of other insects). You can use the attached sprayer inside or outside, targeting doors, windows, or any problem patches.

Downside? While you won’t find concerning chemicals in the ingredient list, you WILL see the recommendation to keep all pets out of the area until everything dries. It’s the synthetic chrysanthemum compounds that pose the issue.

The Good

The Bad

Are you fed up with the fly-swatter? Can’t stand disgusting flypaper strips? RESCUE! has the answer. These outdoor traps feature a water-soluble bait that flies find irresistible. You fill the bottom with water to the indicated line, then hang the trap where you deal with the most fly problems. The flies go through the yellow cap and become trapped and drown. When the trap’s full, you throw it away – no muss, no fuss.

We use these traps near our outdoor trash can, and they work brilliantly.

The downsides? As the trap gets full, it DOES develop an odor. While it’s a great tip-off that it’s time to toss the trap, it’s not pleasant to walk past. Also, the trap needs to stay 20 feet from your usual activity – it may or may not be practical.

The Good

The Bad

Wondercide works best outside to control unwanted pests, but you CAN use it indoors as a pest-safe pesticide. The cedar oil concentrate works nicely to keep away hundreds of different insects and arachnids. And you won’t harm any of your plants in the process! Even better, it doesn’t damage those same pests for any birds that might choose to consume them.

So what are the downsides? You will need to dilute the mixture to get the proper concentration for the area you’re treating. And that means getting a spray bottle, too, as it doesn’t provide one for you. You’ll need frequent reapplication if you have a current problem, but then you can back things off as you get things under control.

The Good

The Bad

Pet-Safe Pest Control

You work hard to maintain a beautiful lawn and home. The last thing you want to see are troops of evil weeds and voracious insects. Eradicating these loathsome pests shouldn’t put your dogs or cats at risk. Pet-safe weed killers and pesticides are your best bet for keeping the unwanted armies at bay.

You’ll keep your house and yard looking fantastic, and you’ll keep your pets safe. It’s the best of both worlds!

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician for 10 years, focusing on Emergency/ICU and later Cardiology, as well as volunteering at both the Philadelphia Zoo and Virginia Living Museum for over six years. She's now a freelance writer, but she gravitates toward writing projects with a focus on animals (once an animal-lover, always an animal-lover). She lives in Virginia with her husband, three cats (one "works" as her personal assistant), and a Greyhound who thinks she's a big cat — all of them rescues.

2 Comments

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thank you – glad you found the article helpful!
      ~Andria


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