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02.21.13

Pesticides and Your Pet

While spring is a time to plant beautiful flowers in your yard, it also brings pesky insects out in numbers. Because of this, a potential hazard this time of year for pets is pesticides.

"Before choosing a pesticide read the label to ensure it is safe for your pet," said Michael Golding, assistant professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "Avoid products with bone-meal as these can be tasty to your pet, and pesticides with organophosphates and carbamates as these can be extremely deadly."

The most common ways pets come into contact with pesticides is licking the toxic substances from their feet or coat, or by directly consuming the product from a container that has been left out.

If your pet begins showing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, trouble walking, drooling, nausea, and/or tremors contact your veterinarian immediately as these are signs that your pet is suffering from pesticide related toxicity.

"A common way pesticides cause problems in our pets is through organophosphates and carbamates," said Golding. "They act as competitive inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase, a key component of the central nervous system that allows the brain to regulate the body."

While newer, more environmentally safe pesticides have a wider safety margin, they are still not 100% safe.

"A product that is labeled 'green' is not necessarily safe for dog/cat who decides to eat it," said Golding. "It is best to be safe, so call your vet and read him/her the label information as soon as your pet has contact with the substance."

While pesticides are a main source for toxicity in pets, there are many other toxins in a home that pets can come into contact with.

"Garage toxins such as antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, and fertilizers, and kitchen toxins like chocolate, bread dough, grapes, and onions are examples of household items that can be problematic if your pet comes into contact with them," said Golding. "For any toxic exposure, contact your veterinarian immediately. Another excellent resource is also the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680."

About Pet Talk

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

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