Gardeners beware: Bone meal fertiliser is dangerous to dogs

Gardeners beware: Bone meal fertiliser is dangerous to dogs

Health & Safety

If you’re a keen gardener but want to keep things natural or even garden by organic principles, there’s a huge range of different products, supplements and accessories you can buy to enable this these days, to negate the need to use pesticides, chemicals, and other such substances.

However, just because an ingredient or product is natural in origin does not mean it is necessarily harmless; after all, some of the nastiest poisons in the world are plant-based!

This means that whenever you bring a new product into your garden if you have a dog, you should be careful to check the ingredients and warnings and also perform your own due diligence to check that it is safe for dogs, or how to use it safely in a garden with a dog; even if whatever that product is seems entirely innocuous!

This is the case for a type of natural fertiliser that is popular with many gardeners called bone meal, which is an animal by-product used in place of chemical fertilisers; which might at a glance make it seem entirely harmless.

However, bone meal fertilisers are dangerous to dogs if ingested, and they’re also something that dogs might find appealing to try to eat, and so need to be used and handled with care. This article will outline how bone meal fertilisers can be dangerous to dogs, and what sort of problems to look out for. Read on to learn more.

What is bone meal?

Bone meal is a by-product of the slaughter process that essentially constitutes the finely ground bones of animals slaughtered for the food chain. It is used in different forms for a number of different purposes, one of which is as a garden fertiliser, when it is usually sold in large sacks or smaller tubs.

It is designed to be used to boost plant growth, and is used by mixing into the soil to provide essential nutrients to support healthy growth.

Why is bone meal fertilizer dangerous to dogs?

Bone meal fertiliser can pose a hazard to dogs in several different ways. Some types of bone meal sold as fertiliser will also have other ingredients added to it, each of which can cause their own problems too.

The first potential risk of your dog ingesting bone meal fertiliser is that bone meal often contains very high levels of iron, which can result in iron toxicity in your dog.

Also, opened bags of bone meal for the garden might be kept for long periods of time between seasons, in potentially damp conditions which can result in the growth of mould. Eating mouldy bone meal can result in mould poisoning, although this is less common.

Ingestion of bone meal may also trigger pancreatitis in your dog, particularly in dogs with a predisposition to this condition.

Finally, bone meal is sold as a ground powder, but when your dog eats it the moisture in their stomach can result in it forming into a mass, which can cause internal blockages.

But I thought bone meal could be fed to dogs?

Bone meal in a different format and of course, dosage is sometimes sold as a supplement for dogs, particularly those fed a raw food diet. There is no formal consensus on whether this supplement is particularly necessary for dogs fed a diet of this type; but bone meal designed for dogs and sold as a canine supplement is not the same as bone meal garden fertiliser.

Is it likely a dog would try to eat bone meal?

Bone meal is an animal by-product, and so it can smell appealing to some dogs and result in them eating it if presented with the opportunity.

This is most likely to happen if your dog gets into an open sack or tub of it, but if you have used it in the garden and so mixed it in with the soil, it can also cause your dog to dig and try to ingest it from the earth too.

What are the symptoms of bone meal poisoning in dogs?

If your dog has eaten bone meal fertiliser, as we mentioned earlier on there are a number of different ways that this might affect them; some dogs may become acutely ill due to one of these reasons while other dogs might not be affected at all.

However, the potential symptoms of bone meal poisoning or other problems after ingestion by dogs to look out for are:

  • Nausea and vomiting, which may contain blood.
  • Drooling and slobbering.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • A bloated, distended and painful abdomen if the bone meal forms a blockage.
  • Weakness and lethargy.
  • Acute pain within the pancreas, which may result in your dog crying, whining, or showing other clear signs of distress.

Generally a dog would need to eat a reasonable amount of bone meal before it would make them sick, but this is also of course relative to the size of the dog and any predisposition they may have to health problems.

If you know or suspect that your dog has eaten bone meal fertiliser, call your vet for advice and have the label from the fertiliser itself to hand in case they ask you for more information about it.



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