National Pesticide Information Center



Using Pesticides on Pets

People use pesticides on their animals to control fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests. They can be very beneficial, but they can cause harm to animals, especially if they are not used according to the label directions. Always read and follow the label directions when using pesticide products. If you are concerned that a pesticide made your pet sick, call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 to discuss the incident. For emergencies, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Follow the label carefully. More is not better! Over-treating animals can lead to illness or death.
  • The prescribed dose for most topical formulations is determined by the animal's weight. You can weigh your animal at home by weighing yourself with and without holding the pet. The difference is your animal's weight.
  • Dog products should never be used on cats. Certain pesticides are more toxic to one species compared to the other. Always follow the label directions.
  • Products designed for adult pets should never be used on kittens or puppies unless the label states that the product may be used on younger animals.
  • Wear protective clothing as required by the label to minimize your exposure.
  • It's a common mistake to use flea and/or tick shampoo before using another insecticide on the animal's fur. Unless the label directions for the two products indicate they can be used together, select only one of the products for use.
  • If you have multiple pets, check the label directions. Many products require treated animals to be separated after treatment to prevent touching and licking.
  • Your veterinarian can help you compare and select the most appropriate products to control insects and ticks on your pets.
  • Beware of counterfeit products, which may not be packaged, labeled or formulated correctly.

Note: Some pest control products for animals are considered drugs (pharmaceuticals). These are prescribed by veterinarians and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Additional Resources on this Topic:

Last updated May 06, 2016