Those of us with furry, feathered or scaly family members know it’s important to keep pets safe as we tackle insects or rodents. After all, both pests AND the chemicals used to banish them can spell trouble for animals if not managed correctly.
But pet safety in the context of pest control is a bit more complicated than shooing Rufus out of the way while you spray pesticide on the side of the house.
“Your animal companions are naturally curious and will follow or track your scent to see where you’ve been,” cautions the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).
Pets may even taste the substance you’ve applied to see if it’s eatable, or get chemicals on their bodies as they groom, roll around or dig in the yard, say experts at Oregon State University.
So what do you do?
In this post, we’ve compiled recommendations from unbiased sources to help ensure your pets stay safe as you take steps to eradicate pests.
Pet Safety BEFORE a Pest Control Treatment
- Consider whether using expert, integrated pest management is a more appropriate way to deal with the pest problem. If you’re using an expert, please inform us that you have pets, what they are, and where they’re located.
- If you choose to apply pesticide yourself, make sure you understand and follow all label instructions and read any manufacturer’s information on how it may impact your pets. When in doubt, call the manufacturer’s hotline.
- Don’t use a pesticide if you spot an oily or gummy film on the surface. It may have deteriorated in storage.
- If it’s windy outside, consider postponing the treatment to another day. Winds can move pesticides to water sources that your pets may frequent.
- In addition to removing pets from the area to be treated, also remove pet toys, food bowls, litter boxes, and bedding.
- Your fishies need protection too! Cover or remove fish tanks to prevent liquid and vapors from entering the tank. If using foggers (bug bombs), turn off fish tank pumps during the application. Consider similar precautions for reptiles, snakes, birds, and other small pets that are in an enclosed region.
- Don’t forget your neighbor’s pets or wildlife! Minimize their exposure too, especially near water sources.
Pet Safety DURING a Pest Control Treatment
- Ask your pest control company if your pet can be present or if they recommend removing them from the treated location. This may be a great opportunity to spoil your pet and put them up in a pet hotel!
- If the product label tells you to mix a product in another container, use all of the mixture or label the container for future use. Do not use food and beverage containers, or containers without tight-fitting lids.
- If using foggers (bug bombs), it’s helpful to turn off your HVAC so pesticide dust doesn’t circulate around your home.
- Baits used for rats, mice, gophers, slugs and snails look mighty appetizing to pets — especially dogs. If using baits, place them where your pet cannot reach or dig them up.
- Don’t exceed the recommended dosage or make repeat applications unless specified on the product label.
Pet Safety AFTER a Pest Control Treatment
- Keep pets away from treated areas until pesticides are completely dry and the area has been well ventilated. Again, ask your pest control technician for their recommendation.
- Granular lawn products take a while to dissolve. Keep pets off the treated area for at least 24 hours.
- Don’t throw away pesticide products or containers. You might need label information in case of emergency.
- Pesticides leave residue on plants, even after dried. Don’t let your pet lick, chew or eat plants treated with pesticides.
- Don’t store herbicides and insecticides together to avoid cross-contamination.
Your Safest Bet
Your best chance of keeping your pets safe and not botch pest control?
Bring in a professional, advises Charlotte Flint, senior consulting veterinarian for Pet Poison Helpline. Pest control professionals are “a great resource to help identify problems and make your home less welcoming to unwanted insects and rodents. They’re also experienced in treating homes with pets.”
On that note, be sure to always inform your pest control technician that you have pets, so he or she can take appropriate precautions.