Keep Your Pets Away From Pesticides!

pafptcsTriazines. Dipyridyls. Chlorpyrifos. Across the country, people are increasing their use of such strange-sounding chemicals to control insects, to kill pests, and to help lawns, gardens, and trees grow. But these same chemicals–and many others–can also poison our pets, even parrots!

Chemicals that kill bugs or animals are called pesticides, and there are specific pesticides for specific pests: insecticides for killing insects and rodenticides for eliminating mice, rats, and other rodents. Chemicals used to kill weeds and unwanted plants are called herbicides. It’s enough to consider a serious environmental issue.

Problems in the Yard

Too often, however, pesticides are not used properly, and they find their way onto pets–and even children. Dr. Edward P. Krenzelok, the director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, says that pesticides have caused more than 70,000 poisoning incidents, especially in children, in a single year. Scientists estimate that the number of pet poisonings is also considerable.

These chemicals could be found as close as your front yard. Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s lawns are treated with pesticides. And experts say that these lawns receive three to six times more chemicals than are needed to do the job. Pets that walk across newly treated lawns get the chemicals on their paws and coats. When they lick themselves. they lick up toxic chemicals.

We often put pesticides such as flea or tick treatments right on our pets. If we apply them according to the package instruction, pesticide poisoning should not be a problem. But ignoring or misinterpreting the instructions can cause problems. Not diluting the pesticide enough. Putting on too much powder. Using a dog treatment on a cat. Any one of these mistakes with off-the-shelf flea or tick products can result in a sick animal.

How seriously do veterinarians take the problem of pets and pesticides? Very. One indication is that some vets are suggesting that pet groomers who regularly apply products to control fleas and ticks should be certified by the state in which they work. The groomers would have to receive special training in storing, handling, and applying these toxic chemicals–just as exterminators and other professional pesticide workers are required to do.

Reducing the Hazards

If chemicals need to be used on your pets or your yard, always remember that they are poisonous. The idea is to keep them poisonous only to pests they are meant to eliminate.

Here are some simple things that you can do to keep your pets–and your family, too–safe from chemical hazards in the home and yard.

Always have an adult handle any chemicals. Young people’s bodies are smaller, so they can be affected by a much smaller amount of chemical than an adult.

Some pesticides, like flea or tick treatments, are meant to be put right on your pet. Read the labels for these products very carefully. Be sure to use the correct amount for the size, age, and type of pet. (Very old or young animals may be more sensitive to chemicals. You may want to use less than the recommended amount with these animals.)

Don’t use a chemical meant for a dog on a cat, or the other way around. Different species may react differently to the same chemical. Again, read the label carefully to be sure.

Wear protective clothing like rubber gloves to keep the chemicals from touching your skin.

Don’t spray or apply chemicals on windy days. Even a light breeze can carry chemicals where they don’t belong–like the neighbor’s flower bed, or even on you!

Store pesticides and herbicides where pets and children cannot get them. Pets are often poisoned by poorly stored toxic chemicals.

If the lawn has been sprayed with a herbicide or pesticide, let it dry completely. Then check the label to see when it’s safe to allow pets and children on the lawn again. It may take up to two days before pets–or people–can use the yard safely. Some experts even suggest waiting for a rainfall or two before resuming normal outdoor activities on your lawn.

Knowing what chemicals we are putting into our home environment can prevent accidental poisonings.

Leave a comment


  1. Annalee Rollinson

     /  May 9, 2016

    Do not forget to keep your pet beddings and food containers away when mixing and applying pesticides. Take their toys away from it, too!

  2. Kristan Notarnicola

     /  July 26, 2016

    I worry a lot for my kids so I keep pesticides away from their sight. Last night, my husband came home with a puppy on his arm. Now I am searching the internet to know what else I can do to prevent this pet from getting near the pesticides. We just have a lot of this chemicals at home because of my husband’s job in the field.

  3. Lean Collington

     /  October 17, 2017

    We use pesticides at home but to ensure that our pets will not be harmed by it, we make sure they are not around when we mix and apply the pesticides. We take them to our neighbors who are kind enough to keep them for a day or two.


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