Is pest control pet-friendly? It can be if you take certain precautions.
Do you use a pet-friendly bug spray around your pets indoors? Your pets count on you to watch out for them and if you’re like most pet owners, you consider them part of your family—you love your family pets and are passionate about doing what you can to give them the best care and protection.
Environmentally-friendly pest control is always in your family’s best interests and should be pet-friendly. It should not only be pet-friendly pest control, it should also be helpful to your family and pets. Smart, consistent, pest control keeps your pets healthy and free from infestations and infections, especially from blood-sucking insects like fleas and ticks. Clean and happy pets only make for a clean and happy home, right?
One question pet owners often ask regards whether pets need to leave the home during pest control treatment and how long they should be kept away. Every property, house, and pet is different.
Understandably, many homeowners are not exactly sure what to do for managing insect pests at home and in the yard. They might buy the first synthetic pest control product they can get their hands on, not considering their children and pets at home. So how pet friendly is pest control?
It’s a valid concern. To be effective, any pest control product needs to be at least harmful to the pests it’s trying to kill. The trick is to find pest control products that contain green ingredients for you and your family, including your pets. Let’s look at how you can better protect your pets while managing household and yard pests.
Being Prepared is the Best Remedy
Having a pest control plan in place is always a good idea: good for you and your family, and also for your pets. Some pests can be harmful and a nuisance for you, but some can be harmful to your pets.
You can treat for bugs in your home or yard on your own with so many pest control products available. For serious infestations, it’s a good idea to hire a professional.
Even if your pet is healthy and has a stronger immune system, you still need to take measures to protect him or her, especially if your pet likes to play outside.
You should never spray for bugs while your pet is in the room. Allow pets to enter after the liquid has completely dried/evaporated.
How to Help Prevent Pests at Home
Preventing pests from entering your home in the first place is one way you can keep your pets safe. Below are some preventive steps you can take:
- Clean, clean, clean! Cleanliness will go a long way to keeping your home, family, and pets bug-free.
- Rake leaves, keep your lawn mowed, and foliage trimmed to reduce habitats for pests.
- Thoroughly caulk cracks, crevices, and other bug entryways to help keep them from coming and going. Don’t forget your door and window frames!
- Fix leaky plumbing and get rid of/prevent water from puddling and becoming stagnant, indoors and out.
- Keep pet food in tightly sealed storage containers. Wash containers out regularly (BPA- and BPS-free or glass containers are preferable).
- Check your pet often for fleas and ticks, especially when they leave your yard or head into wooded areas, and especially during high-exposure conditions. Look for bites, stings, and hitchhikers. Promptly treat insect stings and remove ticks right away.
- Frequently check your pet’s food, water, bedding, and shelter for bugs.
- Promptly remove bedding and toys if you see signals of pest activity; wash in hot water, and dry on high heat.
- Outdoor pets are best confined within a fenced yard. Once they go into an area infested with fleas, ticks, etc., it only takes a second or two for unwanted pests to latch on, become a nuisance to your pet, and gain entry indoors.
- As much as possible, use pest control products that are more pet-friendly.
- If you use pest bait stations/traps at home, keep tabs on where you’ve placed them, and as much as possible, keep your pets away.
- You may consider a flea and tick collar for your pet(s), as well as treating your pet and his or her bedding/play areas with animal-friendly pest repellent. If you treat your pet(s) for lice or other pests, let them completely dry out before your kids touch and play with them.
Before, During, and After Pest Control Application
Once you’ve settled on pet-friendly pest control products to use, thoroughly read application directions and follow them carefully to prevent harm to you or your pets. Before any application, be sure to remove pet beds, toys, and food bowls from the treatment area.
During application, your own or a pest management professional (PMP), keep your pets away. Dogs and cats need to leave the premises. Whether you’re applying a pet-friendly bug spray to treat an area or having a PMP treat your home, definitely give liquid products time to dry/evaporate before letting your pets enter treated areas. Check the pest control product label for guidelines or ask your PMP. Rule of thumb is about 30 minutes to an hour for outside treatments and 2-3 hours for inside treatments.
Keep them in a kennel or pet carrier if possible, or at least in the garage, basement, or a bedroom.
Continue observing your pets after application. Signs your pet may have gotten into a pest control product application include vomiting, diarrhea, and shakes/muscle tremors. Get your pet to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, and Fish
These kinds of pets breathe differently than we mammals do and have much more sensitive immune systems. Pest control products will affect them differently. Cover any bird cages, aquariums, and terrariums with towels before spray treatment occurs, preferably in an untreated, ventilated room.
Be Careful When Storing Pest Control Products
Keep pest control products securely stored and out of reach of children and pets, preferably in their original containers. Never use containers in which you also store food and never mix pest control solutions using kitchen utensils.
Everybody Wash Your Hands!
You and your family should all wash your hands during and after any pest control treatment, especially before handling and eating food.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Don’t confuse “Indoor” with “Safe”
Indoor pets aren’t as vulnerable to mosquitoes, fleas, or ticks, but that does not mean they are completely off the hook. If your pet starts to show signs of an infestation (e.g., chronic biting, scratching), he or she should be treated. Once these bugs are indoors, they can be difficult to get rid of.
Don’t neglect your pets
Keep your pets up-to-date on your pet’s vaccinations, grooming, and medications against fleas, ticks, other parasites, etc. If you’re consistent and vigilant, you won’t find yourself in an emergency crisis situation regarding your pet’s health. Your vet can also steer you away from making other mistakes regarding pest control around your pets.
Don’t Under- or Over-treat
If you find flea or tick evidence on your pet, try treating the problem with a spot-on remedy. But be careful about using the wrong dosage. Using too little will result in not resolving the pest problem, and can end up weakening your pet’s immune system, making them more vulnerable.
“The stronger the dose, the better the cure,” does not apply here, and can be dangerous for your pets. Recommended doses are measured by pet weight and species, so be extra careful not to poison or kill your pet.
Don’t treat pets with human pest repellent
Many insect sprays made for people contain DEET, an ingredient that can cause neurological damage in your pet. Check in with your vet to get pet-specific mosquito and heartworm medication, or try a DEET-free insect repellent that’s OK to use on animals.
Don’t administer medication to your pets without the OK from your Vet
Again, products good for humans aren’t necessarily good for animals. Pets are known to lick and clean themselves, and may ingest something harmful. Diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl®) and calamine lotion may work well for human skin irritation and allergies, but may end up harming or even killing your pet. This goes for holistic products, as well (essential oils, etc.).
Don’t ignore your pet’s favorite places
If you notice your pet needs some pest treatment, don’t forget to treat his or her bedding, favorite spots to play, lie down, etc. You may treat the fleas on your pet, for example, but as soon as your pet returns to an infested area, the problem will return. If you notice fleas or ticks on your pet, it may be time to treat your entire home properly, in addition to treating your pet if you want to get rid of the bug problem.
Don’t assume that just because you don’t see bugs, it means there are none
Be on the lookout for warning signs of harmful bugs around the house, and on your pet(s). Pests can be good at hiding.
Don’t let a bug infestation become intolerable before you address it
You may have been told to wait a pest problem out (e.g., during the winter), thinking it will go away. It won’t, on its own. It will only get worse. Pests will thrive and multiply anywhere they’re not checked, whether outside or indoors. Don’t rely upon winter weather to take care of it for you.
Don’t share the same products between dogs and cats
Different species of animals differ, not just in size, but also physiologically. Unless your vet tells you otherwise, avoid treating your cats with the same internal and external products you use for your dogs, and vice versa.
Sometimes pets stumble upon an ant hill, and unwittingly get bitten several times, rather quickly. Generally speaking, these bites are just itchy and uncomfortable for your pet. However, the bites could look like hives and might spread all over your pet’s body. Serious pet reactions to ant bites are not likely, but anaphylaxis (severe, possibly life-threatening allergic reaction) is a plausible result. Ant bites on your pet are another indicator you should take your pet to the veterinarian. A vet will know what specific treatment your pet will need to ease the allergic reaction.
Fleas can cause your pet to be miserable with excessive itching, causing him or her to scratch compulsively. This might be hard for you to watch, but it can also be harmful for your pet since intense scratching can cause an allergic reaction if your pet has an allergy. This reaction can cause open sores which can then become infected. If you notice sores or bald patches on your pet caused by scratching, it’s definitely worth a trip to the vet for antibiotics. A specialized prescription flea repellent may also be in order.
Pest control can help relieve itching, but remember that you should not consider a spray to be the primary preventive method for parasites like fleas. Your vet can also tell you what prevention methods you can take.
It’s a good idea to use a flea and tick product on your pet, but read the directions and make sure you’re using the right type. Check your pet for ticks and other insect bites, no matter how long or short a time you’ve been outside with your pet. You should be extra vigilant if you’ve been wandering through wooded areas. Carry a pair of tweezers with you, and if you ever find a tick on your pet, remove it as quickly as possible.
If a tick has enough time to get settled, tick paralysis can occur. Symptoms include: labored breathing, vomiting, paralysis, and a change in barking pitch.
Pest control is no guarantee your pet won’t get bitten by ticks (or any other pest, for that matter), but it can at least reduce the likelihood of tick bites for your pet.
Mosquitoes are another undesirable for your pet, able to inflict uncomfortable and even painful bites, resulting in more painful scratching.
Parasite control products can help reduce the risk for your pet(s), but reducing the mosquito population in and around your home, will reduce mosquito exposure to your pet(s), and result in fewer bites.
Bed bugs can get at your pets even indoors, and even in their bedding. More itching and scratching. After you’ve cleaned and vacuumed your pets’ area, wash pet bedding in hot water, apply a pest control product to your pet, and sprinkle a bed bug killer throughout the area. Sprinkle more on and around your pets’ bedding (you’re using a pet-friendly bed bug killer, right?) If you have a heavy bed bug infestation, contact a pest control company as quickly as possible!
Two species of particularly poisonous spiders, the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse, are native to the United States. The Black Widow is found primarily in the South and West, while the Brown Recluse can primarily be found in the south-central Midwest (southeastern Nebraska to southwestern Ohio, then south through Texas and north Georgia).
Bites from these spiders can take a few days before symptoms appear. Symptoms may include rash, weakness, and fever. Untreated, these bits can inflict deep tissue damage, which may end up requiring amputation. Be sure to prevent your pet from licking the infected area, as this will only make matters worse.
Just like people, some pets can be allergic to bee and wasp stings. If you discover that your pet has been stung, it’s best to get him or her to the vet quickly, especially if you notice signs of an allergic reaction (i.e., swelling, respiratory difficulties, seizures, etc.).
Does Your Pet Like to Eat Bugs?
Cockroaches, Crickets, and Beetles
Cockroaches don’t bite, but they carry parasites, and since domestic animals have been known to eat these little pests, it’s possible your pet could end up with a bad case of stomach worms. The same goes for crickets or beetles.
You may consider cockroach traps or a cockroach gel bait, but be sure to use a pet- and earth-friendly brand, and apply where pets can’t get to them.
Fireflies (also known as lightning bugs), can be poisonous not just to mammals, but also to reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Fireflies glow in the dark because of the lucibufagins they carry, which are very harmful to animals. Large animals will probably get little more than a stomach ache if they eat a firefly, but the glowing insects have been known to be fatal to cats and lizards.
Caterpillars and Monarch Butterflies
It’s a good idea to keep your pets away from caterpillars if you want to avoid allergic reactions. Some species of caterpillar can sting or inject poison into curious animals. Untreated, the symptoms can be fatal. Monarch butterflies themselves are not harmful to animals, but when they hide their eggs in milkweed plants, then the problems occur, as these plants and monarch caterpillars are indeed harmful to animals.
Dogs and cats are unlikely to eat either of these things, as they are both very bitter, but if your pet eats a milkweed plant or any kind of caterpillar, get him or her quickly to the vet.
What are your tips and tricks in regard to pest control around your pets? We’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.
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