Vinegar & Diatomaceous Earth are In; Round-Up is Out

Question:

I have two dogs, George & Gracie, whom I love dearly.  I am working under the assumption that there are no safe products to kill weeds and insects that would be safe to use around G&G.  Is this correct?

Dr. Nichol:

Your question stimulates my brain; we veterinarians are taught how to recognize and treat chemical poisonings but we know little about safe alternatives. For reliable information I contacted entomologist Richard Fagerlund, the Albuquerque Journal’s very own “Bug Man” columnist.

For starters, commercial weed killers like Round-Up may not be as safe as we think. Toxic if inhaled or splashed on the skin, it’s fatal if swallowed. But regular household vinegar (5%) is actually a pretty good weed killer. Higher concentrations are even better. “Scythe” and “Burn-Out Weed and Grass Killer”, made from lemon juice and vinegar, are two fatty acid-based herbicides that are also natural and safe.

For insects you can use Neem Oil or diatomaceous earth (DTE). Be sure to use DTE that is natural grade, not the stuff that’s intended for swimming pools because breathing the dust is dangerous. The Bug Man said there is one brand, Perma-Guard, that is diatomaceous earth with a little pyrethrin added for a wider range of effectiveness. Mix with water and spray, without a filter, on the plants. It also kills bed bugs, just in case you or G & G face that social embarrassment.