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Main Content

Pets and Pesticides

Republished from the National Pesticide Information Center


People often use pesticides in their homes or yards to control a variety of pests such as insects, weeds, and rodents. Although these pesticides can be beneficial, they have the potential to accidentally hurt your pet if they are not used and stored properly.

These safety tips from the National Pesticide Information Center offer good suggestions on how to keep our homes free of pests while also taking extra precautions to keep our pets free from potential and unintended harmful effects of pesticides:

  • Remove pets from the area before you begin applying pesticides.
  • Remove all pet toys, chew bones, food bowls, and bedding from the area, as well.
  • Always read and follow the pesticide label directions before using any pesticide.
  • Keep pets away from treated areas until the pesticide is completely dry and the area has been well ventilated. The label may contain more specific instructions.
  • Cover fish tanks to prevent liquid and vapors from entering the tank. If you use foggers — bug bombs — always turn off fish tank pumps during the application.
  • Pesticide baits are often prepared with food ingredients that can be attractive to pets. If you use rat, mouse, or gopher baits or baits for slugs and snails, place the baits in locations where your pet cannot reach them. Pets often dig up baits that were buried.
  • Pets can be poisoned by eating poisoned prey; for example, pets may eat mice and rats poisoned by pesticides. This is known as secondary — or relay — poisoning. Consider selecting a bait product with lower potential for secondary poisoning. Call the National Pesticide Information Center to compare products.
  • Granular lawn products may require keeping the pets off the treated area for 24 hours or longer while the granules dissolve and the treated area dries. Check the label for specific instructions.
  • If you hire a pest control company or lawn service, talk to them about the products they are using and the potential risk to your pets.

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378 during the hours of 8 a.m. to noon PST or email

Know the Dangers of Pesticides

If your pets are like mine, they are members of the family. The key to keeping your pets safe from pesticides is informed awareness. Read labels and plan ahead. Select products that will limit the risk in your specific situation — for example, if you have fish or reptiles you may want to avoid foggers. Plan pesticide applications when the weather and your schedule will allow pets to be outdoors or in an otherwise safe zone and to allow for proper ventilation of your home afterwards.

Bill Patterson — Charles Town, W.Va., TSC Team Member who studied animal science