Yard Pesticide Safety for Pets


You want a beautiful yard and garden—perfect to enjoy those pleasant summer evenings and, of course, safe for your four-legged friends to play in. But some of the pesticides you use to keep your plants happy and bug-free may be harmful to your dog or cat. What products should you be worried about?

Pesticides to Avoid with Your Pets

  1. Organophosphates
    Organophosphates work by attacking the nervous system and they used to be in a lot of pesticide products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has urged companies to find alternatives to organophosphates, but you'll still find them on the market. An organophosphate pesticide called disulfoton is particularly harmful to dogs and cats and is often added to rose care products. Fenthion and malathion are other organophosphates you may see in garden-care products.
  2. Slug or snail bait
    You have to protect those vulnerable plants from slimy predators, but many slug and snail bait products contain metaldehyde. This can cause seizures and death in dogs and cats who ingest it. Fortunately there are several products that are less toxic—but you should still keep pets away from freshly applied slug and snail bait.
  3. Any pesticide mixed with a fertilizer like blood or bone meal, or fish by-products
    Some products, especially those marketed to provide complete care for roses or another specific type of plant, may contain both harmful chemicals and a very attractive-smelling and tasting (to your pets, anyway) fertilizer.

In addition to avoiding the use of products with these potential poisons, you should also carefully read the label of any product you use and follow the directions exactly. Keep your pets off the yard for at least 24 hours after application, and more if recommended by the manufacturer.

Signs of Poisoning in Your Pet

If your pet is acting abnormally, has trouble breathing, is drooling or vomiting, has diarrhea or shows signs of weakness and lethargy, poison could be the issue. Yard pesticides often cause seizures as well. If you suspect a problem, visit your veterinarian or call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Remember that you may not see obvious evidence of poisoning, like a chewed container. Your cats may walk through the yard and lick their paws or your dog may have chewed on grass or toys that were in the yard and picked up traces of chemicals. Any pet can drink from puddles that may contain runoff from applied yard chemicals. Depending on your pet's size, it may not take much for your pet to show symptoms.

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Store Chemicals Properly

Where do you keep your half-full bags and plastic containers of yard chemicals? If you're like most people, you probably have a corner of the garage or a shelf in an outdoor shed designated for your fertilizers and pest control products. And you may believe that if you have the bags sealed and bottles capped tightly that your pets can't possibly access them—but that's not correct.

If your pets spend any time unsupervised in the garage or outdoors, they may be able to chew or dig their way into these containers. Never underestimate the ingenuity of a bored pup! It may help if you consider "poison-proofing" your outbuildings like you would for a human baby or toddler. Keep everything well out of reach, store bottles and containers inside plastic storage boxes and make sure your pet is never in the garage or shed without you or another adult.

Don't take a chance if you believe your pet may have been exposed to any poison, whether that's a yard pesticide product, a potentially toxic plant or a human food that isn't intended for pets to consume.

Your veterinarian can help you with the best way to minimize the poison's effects and help provide care to support your pet. Call us immediately if you suspect your pet has been exposed to poisonous yard pesticides.