We may see our pets as furry people, but in reality, their thick fur and curiosity make them more susceptible to certain insects inside and out. Necessary precaution and informed decisions makes it possible to provide a pest-free playground for dogs and cats while protecting their health and wellness.
Stop the itching AND the illness
Proper use of pesticides helps control insects and parasites that carry diseases affecting you and your pet. Mosquitoes, for example, can transmit heartworm disease, which leads to serious health consequences if undetected in dogs. Spider bites can also cause serious illness in pets.
Of course, fleas and ticks are the most common pests that bug our pets. But these little biters aren't just annoying – they also transmit serious disease (like Lyme disease), cause anemia, or create allergic reactions and skin irritation. Flea and tick prevention products, including topical treatments and collars, are insecticides designed to reduce flea and tick populations.php
Melissa Brookshire, DVM, provides the following advice for controlling fleas and ticks in a safe manner:
- When applying flea and tick products to your pet, be certain to follow the label directions very carefully. Misuse can lead to ineffectiveness, illness or even death
- Only use products that are specifically labeled for the type of pet that you have. (Do not use products made for cats on dogs, or vice versa.) If you are uncertain whether the product you have is safe for your pet, contact your veterinarian.
- Fleas and ticks can thrive in many climates year round. Be certain to follow your veterinarian’s advice about the frequency and duration for the use of all flea and tick insecticides.
- Treat all of your pets for fleas as well as your home and lawn to help control flea populations. When treating your yard or home for fleas and ticks, just remember to keep your pet away from the area being treated until the package indicates it is safe for your pet to return. Follow all label directions to keep your family, including your pet, safe.
More about the safe use of flea and tick products is available on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration web site.
Proper Use = Safe Pets
All pesticide products are rigorously tested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before being approved for use in your neighborhood. Potential effects of these products on pets is studied in the registration process.
As always, be sure to use pesticides according to the label's instructions to make sure you're using it safely. Simple steps can be taken to reduce the exposure pets have to pesticide products. To protect your dog or cat from potential backyard hazards, try the following:
- Apply pesticides when pets are not in the yard. Wait until sprays have dried or granular dust has settled before letting your dog or cat into the area that has been treated.
Remove, or turn over and empty feeding bowls, water dishes and bird baths before pesticide applications.
- After treating lawns and outside areas, restrict pets from the areas until pesticides have dried and the danger of exposure has passed. Follow the restricted-entry interval (REI) as stated on the label.
- Clean up after an application and store products out of pets' reach. The greatest risk of adverse effects to a pet from lawn care products comes from pets lapping from a puddle of an improperly diluted, or undiluted product, especially from a concentrated product in the original container.
- Store all lawncare and gardening products properly – which includes keeping them out of pets' reach.
- Know who to call. If you are concerned your pet may have ingested pesticides, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435.
- Learn more about proper use and your pets. Visit the National Pesticide Information Center, and the EPA web site.
Lawn and Garden Lurkers
While carefully following all directions for pesticide application on your pet or in the backyard, take some time to consider other risks that may exist outdoors. Many popular landscaping plants can be toxic to dogs or cats. When selecting landscaping plants, talk to your extension agent or local nursery manager to determine potential danger.