Now that spring has officially arrived, you will notice that the trees are budding, the grass is growing and the flowers are blooming. Who can blame bugs and dandelions for wanting to join all the fun? If you are like most homeowners, this is the time of the year you begin bug-bombing, weed-and-feeding, mosquito spraying and rounding-up! And while a well-manicured lawn and an ant-free patio are essential components of creating a comfortable outdoor space, there are some precautions that pet parents should take to keep their furry friends safe and pesticide-free.
Grass is a magnet for dogs. They nibble on it, play in it and use it for their personal bathroom. To keep them off of the grass for an entire season would be nearly impossible. So if you can’t keep them off of the grass, how can you keep them from ingesting pesticides?
- Don’t use commercial pesticides. Round-up and Weed & Feed are very effective pesticides, however they are also extremely toxic to children and pets. Organic farmers use everything from apple cider vinegar to garlic oil to control bugs and weeds from infiltrating their plants and grass. Companion planting is also an effective method to control pests. Planting certain plants close together can help fight off diseases, keep bugs at bay and enrich the soil for neighboring plants. Finding alternative pest control is the easiest way to know your pet will be safe in his own backyard.
But what if you don’t control the pesticides that are added to your backyard?
- If you live in an apartment building, or have maintained property, it is important to fully read and understand all of the pesticide information. Be sure to ask your landlord for a 24 hour written notice, as well as a copy of the pesticide information, before any chemicals are sprayed in or out of your home. Once the lawn has been treated, do not allow your dog to come in contact with the sprayed area for at least the time indicated on the pesticide label.
- If your lawn has been chemically treated, stake it with “Keep off the grass” warning signs. It is important for dogs strolling by to stay away from your lawn until it is safe as well. Having this warning clearly visible will help other pet parents keep their companions from getting sick. Ask your neighbors to do the same for your dog.
What should you do if you suspect your dog or cat has been exposed to/accidentally ingested a pesticide?
If you notice your pet is having difficulty breathing, convulsing, having tremors, seizing, bleeding or is unconscious, contact your veterinarian, or the ASPCA Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435, you may be charged a $65 consultation fee) immediately. Be sure to bring in the pesticide information to your veterinarian so that it is easier to determine the best treatment options for your pet.