Once seen as somewhat tacky and tasteless, turf has, in recent years, become much more widely accepted, as more and more people discover the benefits of artificial grass. For animals and their owners, in particular, this material is increasingly considered to be a better option than a natural lawn, as it is significantly more hygienic and much easier to clean of detritus or animal waste. This is the main reason why a growing number of pet owners, particularly those who own ‘outside’ pets such as cats, dogs and rabbits, have been opting to replace the natural grass in their yards with turf carpets.
As popular as it is among pet owners, however, turf is still far from consensual as an ideal material for households with animals. For every dog or cat parent extolling the virtues of artificial grass for animals, there still tends to be at least one person in the opposite camp, preventing turf from becoming as widespread in homes with pets as it might otherwise have been.
The basis for these detractors’ arguments hinges around one hypothesis: that rather than be beneficial for dogs and cats as well as their owners, artificial grass may in fact be toxic to them, as well as children. This point of view has gained some traction over the years, and nowadays it is not uncommon to find people dis-recommending artificial grass for animals based on these claims.
Yet, like most other problematics in modern society, this issue is not as linear or simple as it looks. There are arguably points to be made for either side of the argument, and no clearly defined ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side. This is why the present article will not attempt to offer a definitive answer to the question of whether or not it is dangerous artificial grass for animals, but simply present some of the known facts surrounding this issue, so as to give pet owners a better understanding of the factors involved.
The basis for the claim that turf is dangerous to animals, as well as to children, originates from the actual, documented presence of a certain chemical in this material. This chemical, known as crumb rubber, is usually applied to the surface of turf carpets, to make the artificial blades more wear-resistant and provide extra padding. The main concern surrounding crumb rubber is that it may contain traces of other, potentially hazardous chemicals and metals, which could in turn lead to complications for pets and children subject to direct contact with the grass. This is the main basis supporting the argument that it may potentially be dangerous for households or outdoor areas to provide artificial grass for animals and children to play on.
The counter-point to this argument is the fact that no studies have concretely proven that crumb rubber has adverse effects on those who come into contact with it. As noted above, the material does contain traces of potentially hazardous substances, but these amounts are so small as to be negligible. There is no scientific evidence firmly corroborating the dangers of artificial grass for animals and children, and most of the claims to that effect seem to originate from word of mouth. By contrast, manufacturers’ claims that their turf carpets are non-toxic and free of hazardous seem somewhat more credible and substantiated artificial grass for dogs.
Still, as noted above, there is really no right or wrong answer to this question. Evidence seems to point to there being no danger in artificial grass for animals and children, but much like its counter-argument, this point is not fully substantiated. It would seem, however, that when it comes to turf carpets, a pet owner or parent’s main concern should be their tendency to overheat in hot weather, rather than the possibility that it will make their pet or child sick.