Updated September 26, 2023
When it comes to selecting pet-safe pesticides for your yard, you can’t be too careful. To help, we’ve built a list of low-risk treatments that are safer options for you and your pets! We started our search at the National Pesticide Information Center and narrowed our list 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 pest-control 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.
🚨When we say pet-safe insecticides, we mean pet-friendly products used to treat the home. Never spray these products directly on your pup. They are not bug repellents for a dog’s body.
In a world with genetically modified organisms and big agriculture, it’s hard to avoid exposure to harmful pesticides. These chemicals are everywhere, and their residue is hard to get rid of. Replacing harmful pesticides with low-risk ones — or natural alternatives — may reduce your exposure.
Certain lawn chemicals linger on grass, plants, and outdoor surfaces for up to 48 hours after application. What’s even scarier is that they usually make it all over the inside of your house, too. Ever sprayed weed killer in your yard? Those chemicals are likely all over your kitchen floor. That’s because chemicals hitch a ride into your house on human and pet feet. If your dog eats the grass or licks themselves, those chemicals collect in the gut, which is even worse.
The good news is that it usually takes years of exposure before chemical residue builds up enough to cause problems for you or your pet’s health. 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.
There are some must-have ingredients to look for when choosing a pet-friendly bug spray for your home. We recommend using minimum-risk products as outlined by the EPA. They should all have the following ingredients:
There are several ingredients to avoid when shopping for a suitable insecticide:
Here are just a few important findings to consider. It’s not a pretty picture.
Interestingly, many of the studies we read did not find the same correlation between flea products and adverse effects for pets though “old-school” flea medications may be harmful. Our veterinarians generally discourage the use of flea shampoos and some flea powders and recommend medication instead for fleas and ticks.
It’s not enough that toxic chemicals are everywhere. But it’s even harder to know what’s safe and what’s not among products labeled all-natural. 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.
Look, we get it. Sometimes the pest problem is so bad that it takes professional-grade treatment. For families that live in warm or human climates, the options come down to staying indoors most of the year or treating their yards for pests like mosquitoes.
The best thing pet owners can do to protect themselves, their pets, and their families is to use minimum-risk pesticides as much as possible. Some pest-control measures like traps for rodents are typically covered by an enclosed box so as not to harm pets or children.
In cases of infestation, you may want a professional pest-buster to come and spray your home. When looking for an exterminator, read reviews and look for one that uses pet-safe products.
One of the biggest risks of using toxic ingredients is insecticide poisoning. Even safe-to-use products can be unhealthy for your pup when ingested, inhaled, or exposed to the skin in large doses.
Look out for these signs of insecticide poisoning:
The rule of thumb is to keep your dog away from sprayed surfaces for at least three days. The following are some insecticide-poisoning prevention methods:
You could also try swapping pesticides for these alternative, pet-friendly pest control ideas:
It’s important you know how to correctly spray your home and garden. The first thing to do is follow the “directions for use” on the bottle. Different products have different application methods.
👉 Natureshield is applied through an irrigation system. Apply Summit Mosquito Dunks to water throughout the garden. Other products come as a spray bottle.
Before applying products for home defense, cover utensils and countertops. Apply the product to areas where pests hide, like pantries, attics, cracks, and crevices.
In the garden, spray the grass, crevices on the patio, and other plant areas. Aphids tend to hang out on leaves while earwigs hide in mulch. Don’t apply too much product to the areas of the garden where your dog hangs out.
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.
Pesticides and insecticides used indoors and outdoors are basic irritants for pets and people. For dogs, exposure might include symptoms like diarrhea, drooling, vomiting, or nausea.
While this depends on the chemicals used in the product, certain insecticides that contain organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethrins, and pyrethroids are toxic to cats. In addition to the typical signs of exposure, cats may also experience muscle tremors and seizures. Contact the Poison Pet Helpline if you suspect pesticide poisoning.
With dogs, signs of exposure to pesticides depend on the chemical used, the amount of exposure, and the individual dogs. Symptoms can start within a few hours or up to a few days.