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How to Avoid Insecticide Poisoning in Dogs and Cats

Don't Let Your Anti-Pest Measures Actually Harm Your Pets

By Sora Wondra. February 05, 2014 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

    DVM

A Cat And Dog In A Field

Insecticides are used often and in various different ways around our homes. But if proper care isn't taken, pets can easily ingest or come into contact with insecticides, which can be extremely dangerous.

Insecticides are designed to kill insects, but they can also seriously affect your dog or cat. Many insecticides used in homes, gardens, parks, and even spot-on flea treatments can easily poison your pet if not used carefully. Dogs are especially at risk of inhaling or ingesting debris left on grass, eating a treated plant, or eating an undissolved pellet of water-soluble insecticide. Here’s how to avoid insecticide poisoning.

Dangerous Ingredients in Insecticides

Several ingredients can cause severe reactions and even long-term cognitive issues. When you are buying insecticides, look at the label and avoid buying the most dangerous ingredients listed below:

  • Amitraz
  • Acephate
  • Carbofuran
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Diazinon
  • Disulfoton
  • Fenoxycarb
  • Fonofos
  • Malathion
  • Methomyl
  • Parathion
  • Permethrin (don’t use around cats)
  • Propozur
  • Terbufos
  • Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP)

The most surprising of these may be permethrin, which is often used in dog spot-on flea and tick treatment. Cats are highly susceptible to permethrin poisoning, even through skin contact, so if you have a cat and a dog, look for safer alternatives for your home.

Safer Insecticide Alternatives

Below is a list of insecticides that, when used as directed, can be safer to use around pets.

  • Acetamiprid
  • Imidacloprid
  • Lufenuron
  • Nitenpyram
  • Pyriproxyfen
  • S-Methoprene
  • Spinosad

Follow the Label

Once you have identified which insecticides can be safely used around your pets, it's still very important to follow directions carefully—overdosing with a “safer” insecticide can still lead to poisoning. Make sure to read products' fine print carefully, and ensure that insecticides will not be mixed.

  • Never apply outdoor insecticides while your pet, any toys, or feeding bowls are on the lawn.
  • Avoid pellet pesticides that can be mistaken for food.
  • Don’t mix insecticides with organic fertilizer -- most dogs like the taste of organic fertilizers.
  • When storing insecticides, make sure they are out of reach and locked up so that children and animals cannot access them.

Take Caution

When your pet is outside, it can be harder to protect them from dangerous insecticides. Your neighbor's pesticides can also drift into your lawn and affect your pet. It is best to get to know your neighbor and talk with them about their pesticide use, at least so that you know which pesticides your pet might be exposed to. If you take your dog to a park that uses pesticides, avoid treated areas for at least 72 hours—and waiting longer is better.

If you suspect your dog or cat has been poisoned by an insecticide, contact an emergency veterinarian and poison control immediately. It's important to gather as much information as possible:

  • What the poisonous chemical was or may have been
  • How much was ingested
  • The means of exposure

Bring the insecticide packaging if you can and, if your pet has vomited, a small vomit sample for analysis.

More on Poisoning

When to Call Animal Poison Control
Be Prepared for Emergency Pet Care: Steps to Take Now
The Most Poisonous Foods for Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Insecticide Poisoning at a glance

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  • 1Insecticides have become a part of our everyday environment.
  • 2It's important to be aware of the dangers to pets and avoid them in your own home.
  • 3Learn which chemicals are most dangerous and choose safer alternatives.
  • 4If you suspect your pet has been poisoned by an insecticide, seek immediate veterinary attention.