Dogs and pesticides don’t mix well. Many dog owners learn this lesson the hard way, with a large portion of the calls made each year to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center involving poisoning from pesticides. Dogs are at risk of poisoning from sniffing treated areas or having pesticides stick to their fur and absorbed through the skin. They are also at risk of secondary poisoning from consuming insects and other small animals who have ingested the poison. Although controlling pests is important for the health and comfort of both you and your dog, precautions should be taken to keep your pet safe when treating the yard.
If using chemical pesticides in your yard is necessary, take all precautions to restrict your dog’s access to treated areas, and carefully read and follow the directions on the pesticide label to be sure you’re using it in the prescribed manner. Keep Buster inside, or confined to an untreated part of the yard, until the treated area dries. If using granules, it might be necessary to keep him inside for at least 24 hours to give the granules plenty of time to dissolve and dry. His toys, treats, bedding and any outside food or water dishes should be removed from the area being treated. You should keep an eye on him in the following weeks for signs of secondary poisoning, and to be sure that he doesn’t ingest any poisoned prey.
There are a handful of organic pesticides that are effective at killing pests while being harmless to pets and animals. These include diatomaceous earth for flea control, and bacillus thuringiensis, or “Bt,” for controlling leaf-eating caterpillars. The same insecticidal soap that you use on your pets can be used to kill and repel unwanted insects in the lawn and garden. As an alternative to pesticides, you can try organic methods of insect control such as treating the lawn with heat to kill fleas, or placing disposable containers at the base of plants to catch slugs and other pests. In addition to pet safety, another advantage to organic pest control is that, unlike chemical pesticides, it tends to target true pests while allowing beneficial insects to remain unharmed.
You can reduce the need for pesticides in the yard by filling your garden with plants that are native to the region in which you live. Native plants are evolved to naturally fend off local pests without additional help. It also helps to make sure the soil in your yard is healthy and full of beneficial worms and insects. Mixing compost into your soil adds nutrients that help plants thrive, and also helps to attract the beneficial bugs that prey on pests.
If your dog is exposed to pesticides despite your best efforts, it’s important to get him to a vet as soon as possible. If you can’t get to a vet, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. Both of these hotlines will require you to pay a fee, but they can provide you with valuable information and resources that might save your pet’s life. Once your pet has been treated, the incident should be reported to the Environmental Protection Agency. You can report it yourself by calling 800-858-7378, or ask your vet to report it through the National Pesticide Information Center’s Veterinary Incident Reporting Portal.