By JeanneBennett

Spirit staff Pet Advocate

Spring is in the air and with it comes bugs… you know, ticks and fleas just to name a few. Those pesky critters we are sure have a purpose on this earth, even though it seems all they do is torment us and our pets.

Most people resort to pesticides to control insects around the home, weeds in the yard, germs in the bathroom and rodents in the garage. If you are a pet owner you may be forced to resort to using pesticide products directly on your pets to control fleas and ticks.

While many pesticide products may be beneficial, poor planning or improper use of pesticides can harm pets. Animals can be exposed to pesticides when they breathe in the product, absorb it through their skin, or ingest the product.

Your pet’s risk of developing a health problem depends on how much pesticide your pet is exposed to and the toxicity of the pesticide to that specific type of animal. As a pet owner you can minimize the chance of your pet having a problem by following label directions, selecting lower toxicity pesticides, and minimizing the amount of exposure the pet has to the pesticide during and after the application.

To minimize the risk of harm to your pet, remove pets from any areas that you plan to treat with pesticides before applying or mixing the product. Also remove pet toys, bedding, food and water bowls from the area. Read and follow carefully the instructions that are printed on the label. By keeping pets away from treated areas for the  amount  of  time  specified  on  the  pesticide  label  or  until  any  sprayed  pesticides  have dried completely, whichever is longer, you lower the chance of your pets accidentally ingesting any pesticides. Finally, ensure all pesticides are securely stored in locations where pets cannot access them.

If you find you must use pesticides indoors, here are a few simple tips can keep your pets safe.

During  indoor  pesticide  applications,  remove  all  pets  from  the  home  or  keep  them  in  untreated  areas.  If you use foggers (bug bombs), always remove all animals from the house. Cover fish tanks to prevent liquid vapors or dusts from entering the tank. Since foggers create a fine aerosol mist, the pesticides may move through all of the air in the home, including the tank pumps and fish tank. You might also consider turning off central heating or air conditioning, which can circulate airborne pesticides.

If any rodent or insect baits are used in your home, make sure they are in secure bait stations or in locations not accessible to pets. Baits are made with ingredients many pets find appetizing. In addition to the general precautions discussed  above,  ensuring  the  area  is  well  ventilated  during  the  drying  process  will  help  to  minimize  your  pet’s  exposure when it returns.

It is also important to follow certain guidelines to keep your pets safe when you use pesticides outside of the home. Outside, the precautions are similar to those you would follow for other areas.

Start by removing pets, their toys, their food and water from the area to be treated. To minimize exposure to the pesticide and to prevent residues from being tracked into homes, keep pets out of treated areas until the pesticide has dried completely. Granular products may have specific instructions for watering the granules into the soil after they are applied.

Again, it is very important to read and follow all directions that accompany the pesticide. Pay attention to your pet after you have treated them or the area they live in and if you notice any strange behavior — vomiting, lethargy etc. — call your veterinarian right away.

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