Lime can be very irritating to pets who can ingest the powder or pellets, breathe in the dust or lick the lime from paws of fur.
Plan to keep your dogs off the grass for as long as the lime is visible in the grass. Depending on the lime used and the strength of the lime and how it is applied this may be 24-48 hours or more.
Lime has a PH of over 12 making it extremely alkaline. For reference the PH of water is 7, so 12 is very far out of neutral.
When you add lime to your lawn it can be helpful to raise the soil PH to improve the health of the lawn.
Fortunately, lime application only needs to take place every few years and maybe less. After applying lime you should test your soil after 6 months and then again after 2 to 3 years.
Will Lime on Grass Hurt Dogs?
If your dog comes into contact with undiluted lime on grass the high PH can cause skin irritation and breathing problems if inhaled.
In general, you should be sure that any agricultural lime applied to the lawn should be completely dissolved before allowing your dog to play on the grass.
Pellets will take longer to dissolve but it is safer than powder if breathing problems are a concern. You can also choose a less caustic form of lime to apply in either form.
Agricultural lime has a PH of 12 while some other liming products have lower PH. Discuss your choices with an experienced gardener or your local home and garden store.
This irritating lawn chemical can be dangerous for pets. If you notice that your dog is acting differently and you expect a lime exposure, call the ASPCA poison control center by following the link.
In general, if you suspect your pet has ingested something harmful you should:
Call your Vet or Poison Control Immediately
Call a professional who can direct you to the best next steps. Some substances need immediate medical intervention while for some a wait-and-see approach is better.
Have All Information Available
Be sure to have the information about the lime handy when you call. Write down the product name, the exact ingredients, and the percentage.
Many lawn chemicals include several compounds to feed the soil, so be sure to have any packaging available when you call.
Be Careful Handling Your Pet
Your dog may be very sensitive and may act aggressively or out of character because of the pain or irritation, so watch for cues and be as gentle as possible.
Although care is different for dogs, according to the Material Safety Data Sheet if humans are exposed to lime it is recommended that they wash with a bar of mild soap to remove it from the skin as quickly as possible, flush their eyes if exposed, and drink water if ingested.
How long should you wait to allow your dog out after treating with Lime?
As a general rule when the lime is no longer visible on the lawn it is safer for dogs to be on the grass. A heavy rain or generous watering may be enough to accomplish this or you may need to water for a few consecutive days before you no longer see any lime.
Check your lawn thoroughly for any undissolved lime before allowing your dog into the yard.
When you are selecting your lime product you may want to use a powder that will dissolve more quickly, but be sure to use appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) when applying lime powder.
One of the greatest dangers to humans when dealing with lime is from inhaling the dust. Inhaling a large amount quickly or over time can result in silicosis which can be fatal.
Silicosis is the result of inhaling silica contained in lime and other products, be sure to use an appropriate dust mask to protect yourself from inhaling lime.
If you or your dog inhales lime you should seek medical attention.
Which Lime Should I Use If I Have A Dog?
So, to review, there are two main applications that are available for agricultural lime.
Powder will dissolve into the soil more quickly, but can be a respiratory danger to dogs and humans.
Pellets are generally slower to dissolve into the soil, but they produce less airborne silica which is an extremely dangerous thing to inhale.
These pellets must be completely dissolved before dogs are allowed onto a lawn where they have been spread.
Choose the application that makes sense for your situation and only buy enough for one application as lime is not intended to be applied regularly.
Lime only needs to be applied when a soil PH test indicates that your soil is too acidic to support your lawn.
Some varieties of grass tolerate lower PH than others, consider planting centipede grass or zoysia both tolerate PH as low as 5.
What Type of Lime Is Safe for Dogs?
There is no safe lime for dogs. Agricultural lime is incredibly irritating to dogs and animals as it has a very high PH of around 12. Be sure that any lime that has been applied to your law is completely absorbed into the soil before allowing dogs into the yard.
Lime is sold in many forms:
(List from the Department of Primary Resources)
These products are rated for their ability to alkalize the soil and a fineness rating. They have varying PH levels and some are more caustic than others.
Agricultural lime is the most affordable and accessible for home gardeners. This is appropriate for a home with a dog, just consider which fineness suits your timeline. Finer liming materials will dissolve more quickly than corser products.
Avoid Burnt Lime (sometimes called quicklime) as it is more dangerous and more expensive than agricultural lime.
Dolomite has a much lower PH of 5.5-6.5 and may be a less harsh liming product if you have very acidic soil and do not need to raise the PH drastically.
Dolomite is also sometimes recommended for treating dog urine spots on lawns.
Note that many lime products contain a mixture of these chemicals so be sure to read the labels carefully and if the ingredients are not specified, consider other products.
Lime application does come with some risks, so be sure that you have completed a soil test before applying lime.
Use an inexpensive soil PH and moisture meter to get this information quickly.
Lime for Treating Dog Urine on Lawns
Dog urine is PH neutral, the dead grass spots are actually nitrogen burns from the nitrates in the dog’s urine not from a PH problem.
The nitrates are the result of a high protein diet.
Lime is used to raise the soil PH, it is incredibly alkaline with a PH of 12. Water has a PH of 7, so 12 is way out there on the scale.
Lime treatment is dangerous and inhaling the dust from lime can result in respiratory problems for humans and dogs. It is also not a product that you want to keep on hand.
Lime only needs to be applied every few years and it is very irritating to skin on people and pets.
So, unless a soil test indicates that your soil is very acidic, like under 5, then lime will not fix the yellow spots.
To treat the dead grass areas on your lawn you should water the area heavily and try to persuade your dog to pee elsewhere.
If you are seeing yellow spots in your yard where your dog likes to pee it is likely a nitrogen burn.
The good news is that nitrogen does not stay in the soil for long and regular watering should break up the high concentration of nitrogen that is burning the grass in that area.
Rake the area, remove dead grass, add some topsoil or compost and reseed the area. Cover with straw to keep the seed protected while it becomes established.
Ryegrass and Fescue are grass types that are very resistant to the nitrates in dog urine that kill other types of grass.
Dogs and Agricultural Lime
After applying lime to your lawn be sure that you wait for a heavy rain or generously water in the product so that no product is visible before allowing dogs onto the grass. The PH of lime is so high that it is a skin irritant.
Be sure to test your soil before deciding that a lime application is necessary and choose the most gentle solution available to get the desired results.
Agricultural lime may be the most affordable and accessible, but a dolomite lime may be safer for you to apply and for your dog.
Since lime applications are only needed every few years the increase in price will not be ongoing.
If you believe that your dog has ingested lime, call the ASPCA poison control center or your vet immediately, and have the packaging ready to read ingredients to the professionals.