In her short story “Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story,” nineteenth century novelist and poet George Eliot wrote, “Animals are such agreeable friends―they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” Pet lovers the world over have testified to this truth. When chums and family fall short, a faithful dog or affectionate cat often stands in the gap. That mutual affection has also caused many owners to wonder if pest control services are safe for pets.
They have reason to feel concern about pest control pet safety. News stories and anecdotes abound about beloved pets who have run afoul of poisons or synthetic pesticides. The good news is that responsible pest control practices can lead to low environmental persistence of pesticides and protect pets lives while eliminating bugs, rodents, and the like. Read on to learn more.
What is Pet-friendly Pest Control?
Pet-friendly pest control is intimately linked with integrated pest management, an approach that the EPA describes as “an environmentally friendly, common sense approach to controlling pests.” Traditional pest control involves the routine application of pesticides. Integrated Pest Management, in contrast:
- Focuses on pest prevention
- Uses pesticides only as needed
Texas A&M University notes that integrated pest management also arose out of concerns about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of spray-and-pray pest control. “What began 30 years ago as a lofty notion to partner with nature when controlling pest problems has blossomed into a nationally accepted practice that saves the environment, money, and reduces pesticide use.”
Integrated pest management is not only kind to the environment and people, it’s friendly to pets, too — but not to pests. Smithereen prides itself on having been counted as Green Shield Certified by the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Institute of America. Our service is both effective and safe each and every time.
Signs a Pest Control Service is Pet-Friendly
Determining whether or not you’re dealing with pet-friendly pest control is easy. You should look for the characteristics of integrated pest management. Does the technician start by searching for signs of the reported pests, determining the extent of the infestation? Has the service informed you as to the life cycle of the pests, which provides insight into the best methods of elimination and prevention? Will the pest control company inspect your property and address any contributing factors? Does the service involve a post-treatment plan to keep rodents, wildlife, bugs, and other irritants from returning? All of these are signs that a pest control company is on the up and up.
But there’s one final element for you to consider: Does your pest control technician ask whether or not you have pets on the premises before beginning the treatment? This should occur each and every time well before a treatment happens, and you should expect it from companies you hire.
Pest Control Services that May be Harmful to Pets
When you read online about pet friendly rodent control or bug control or some such similar pest, you often find people fixating on pet-friendly pest control products. They tend to recommend specific pet safe bug sprays or various non-toxic chemicals or traditional remedies such as diatomaceous earth. And these are all well and good, especially if you’re primarily considering over-the-counter solutions (which can have a high likelihood of harming pets if improperly used). However, focusing on the products is a mistake if you’re hiring a professional pest control company.
Why? Well, as we alluded to above when discussing integrated pest management, the way in which you approach the task is every bit as important as what you’re spraying. We’d all like to find the perfect array of pet friendly pesticides that could be applied without concern. But that’s not how pet safe bug sprays work in the real world. Instead, a company should take its time, plan carefully when and where it will use product, and communicate that plan to you.
Oh, and heed the EPA’s warnings against companies that sell pest control service bundled with unrelated offerings, that offer on-the-spot sales available only for a limited time, or show up at your door unannounced. Such individuals very likely won’t be offering pest control that’s good for your pets or for you.
Pests That May Be Harmful to Your Pets
Many pet lovers spend a lot of time searching for pet friendly pest control — and that’s a good thing! No one wants to expose Fido to harsh chemicals that may cause lingering health issues. However, there’s another factor to consider: Not thoroughly treating for common pests can also place your furry friend at risk. Following are some common irritants that pest control services should eliminate ASAP.
- Fleas: These tiny biting insects have plagued mammals since, well, forever, but did you know that they spread diseases to both pets and people? Two of the most notable include cat-scratch disease (Bartonella henselae) and the plague (Yersinia pestis).
- Mosquitoes: Another irritating biting insect, the mosquito likewise transmits illnesses such as heartworm, encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
- Spiders: The venom produced by some spider species my sicken pets and cause tenderness and swelling.
- Ticks: Even if tick bites don’t lead to Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, they may cause your pets to develop anemia.
How Can You Keep Your Pets Safe During Pest Control?
If your pets remain home during a treatment, make sure that you follow a few simple guidelines in order to keep them safe. These include:
- Keeping them out of the rooms in which treatment is being performed. If possible, confine your dogs or cats to pet carriers while the Smithereen technician is in the property. This will keep them from accidentally coming in contact with any pest-eliminating product.
- Don’t introduce pets to a treated area until after any product has dried. Sometimes your technician may ask you to keep pets out of a room for an extended period, but it’s usually safe to allow your furry friends to return once a spray has dried.
- Take special precautions with birds and reptiles. Because these kinds of pets can be especially sensitive to pesticides, make sure to cover their cages to prevent any overspray or aerosolized droplets from reaching them.
Keeping Your Pets Safe After Pest Treatment
Of course, no one wants pests to hurt themselves or their pets, which is why finding indoor pest control safe for pets is such a priority for owners. Generally speaking, once all sprayed product has dried, the area should be safe for pets. However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your furry, finned, or feathered friends remain safe. They include:
- Setting aside a pesticide-free room for your pets
- Covering any pet cages or tanks
- Hiring a pet sitter or placing your pet in a kennel during treatments that involve lingering chemicals
- Washing soft pet items (e.g., bedding) and hard pet items (e.g., bowls, toys)
- Monitoring your pets for any signs of potential exposure or poisoning
- Contacting your veterinarian regarding any potential risks for your specific breed of pet
Do I Need to Tell my Field Expert/Technician About my Pets?
Though any pest control technician worth his or her salt should ask you if you have pets in the property, it’s always wise to volunteer that information first. That way the company can take special steps to ensure that your beloved animals remain safe and secure.
Here at Smithereen, we care about your pets just as much as we care about ensuring that your pest problems don’t return. With more than a century of pest control experience, we have what it takes to eliminate irritating bugs, rodents, and wildlife — and to make sure they stay gone. Contact us today at (800) 336-3500!