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The best pet-friendly pesticides for your lawn and home

Updated September 16, 2022

We evaluated products against the EPA and Toxic-Free Future's guidelines to find the safest pesticides on the planet.
dog scratching at bugs

mosquitos suck, 📷 by Tony Alter

🔍 How we picked our favorites

We built a list of low-risk pesticides — We started our search at the National Pesticide Information Center and narrowed our list down to products identified as low-risk by the Washington Toxics Coalition (now Toxic-Free Future) and Our Water Our World.

Then we focused on the absolute safest products possible — We evaluated those low-risk products against the EPA’s conditions for Minimum Risk Pesticides to find the products with the least toxic active ingredients.

At a glance: The best pet-safe bug sprays and weed killers

Here’s why using minimum-risk pesticides matters 

Pesticides are a bigger health concern than you think. In a world with GMOs and big agriculture, it’s really hard to avoid exposure. The chemicals are everywhere. And the residue is really hard to get rid of.

Certain lawn chemicals last on grass, plants, and outdoor surfaces for up to 48 hours after application. What’s even scarier is that those chemicals usually make it all over the inside of your house. Ever sprayed weed killer in your yard? It’s likely those chemicals are all over your kitchen floor.

When your dog goes out to poo in an area treated with pesticides, some of those chemicals hitch a ride into your house. It’s impossible to prevent residue from latching onto your dog’s feet, legs, and back. And if your doggo eats the grass or licks themselves — again, this is going to happen — those chemicals collect in the gut too, which is even worse.

The good news is that it usually takes years of exposure before chemical residue builds up enough to cause health problems. The bad news is that these chemicals aren’t going anywhere. Case in point: In 2019, the EPA refused to ban a pesticide linked to neurological damage in children because of its importance to U.S. agriculture. That’s why it’s so important to use low-risk pesticides whenever possible. 

What do the studies say?

Here are just a few important findings to consider. It’s not a pretty picture.

  • 2019: Long-term exposure to pyrethroid-based repellents and shampoos may increase heart disease in pets.
  • 2019: The Acute Insecticide Toxicity Loading (AITL) on U.S. agricultural land is 48 times more toxic to bees and insects than it was before 1990.
  • 2018: Pets are at risk of lymphoma due to exposure of glyphosate residue in commercial pet food
  • 2012: The use of professionally applied lawn care pesticides raised the risk of lymphomas in dogs by 70%.
  • 2012: Lawn pesticides were linked to cancer, nervous system issues, and other conditions in cats and dogs.
  • 2004: Scottish terriers who were exposed to herbicides were four to seven times as likely to develop bladder cancer.

‘All-natural’ products aren’t created equal

It’s not enough that toxic pesticides are everywhere. But it’s even harder to know what’s safe and what’s not. Product labels and marketing can be pretty misleading, if not downright deceptive.

A great example of this is the presence of permethrin in sprays labeled ‘all-natural’ and ‘organic.’ First, permethrin is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring pesticide. All-natural? Meh. Secondly, the EPA classified it as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” if ingested.

Use high-powered pesticides only as a last resort 

Look, we get it. Sometimes the bugs are so bad that it takes professional-grade treatment. Just ask Andy Bowen, one of our co-founders.

“My son Beckett has a highly elevated histamine response. When he gets a few bites, it takes a round of steroids to deal with the swelling. We live in South Carolina. It’s humid. Our yard is essentially the origin of all mosquitos. Our options were never playing in the yard again, or hiring a mosquito company.”

Pesticide poisoning is a serious problem for both pets and people, but thankfully it can take years of exposure to before things get serious. The best thing you can do is to protect yourself, your pets, and your family is to use minimum-risk pesticides as much as possible.

How long should I wait after spraying before I let my pet outside?

👉 We recommend keeping off treated areas for at least three days after treatment. 

Most product labels advise that you and your pets should keep off sprayed lawns or surfaces for six to 24 hours. Studies, on the other hand, say that chemical residue can be found on surfaces up to 48 hours after application — even if it rains.