Pet-friendly pest-control ideas to keep your pets safe whilst you deal with unwanted critters and bugs

Keep your furry friends safe during creepy crawly season with our non-toxic and homemade pest control options

Cat and dog on white carpet
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Protect your furry friends with our pet-friendly pest-control ideas that are effective in getting rid of those creepy crawlies without harming your dogs, cats, or other pets. 

Whether you need to get rid of ants, roaches, or any other insects that may have invading your home this summer, we've asked pest control and animal experts for their top non-toxic solutions.

They've also earmarked which ingredients to watch out for when buying commercial pest-control products to keep your pets safe. As soon as you identify the bugs in your home, you'll be ready to start getting them under control.

Why pet-friendly pest-control ideas are key

Dog and cat against blue background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

During the warmer months, you may find yourself in a panic looking for things that repel pests. You may be trying to get rid of ants or combating spiders left and right. But before you go all-out with the ant spray, you may want to give some thought to the health of your furry friend. 

"Many conventional pest control products can harm animals. Ingredients like permethrin and pyrethroids, often found in insecticides, are particularly dangerous," says Dr. Kathryn Dench (MA VetMB), Chief Scientific Advisor at Paw Origins.

These ingredients can be pretty harmful to cats and dogs. 

"In my clinical experience, I've seen cases where pets suffered from tremors, seizures, and even fatalities due to exposure to these chemicals. Rodenticides containing anticoagulants can cause severe internal bleeding if ingested by pets. It's also essential to be cautious with snail and slug baits, as these often contain metaldehyde, which is highly toxic to dogs and cats," says Dr. Kathryn.

While that sounds pretty worrying, don't fret. There are actually some non-toxic ways to keep bugs out of your home this summer.

Brett Bennett, Director of Operations, PURCOR Pest Solutions,says, "Lots of common pest control products will harm animals, although increasingly there are more and more options that use gentler or more naturally sourced ingredients that will get rid of bugs while still being non-toxic to pets like cats and dogs. There are also tons of more DIY pest control methods you can try."

If you're unsure whether a product may be toxic to your pet, please consult with a veterinarian before buying and check the Pet Poison Helpline’s toxicity list. If you think your pet may have come into contact with a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661
  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

Try Diatomaceous earth

Avoid making common pest-control mistakes like improperly using pest-control products and instead try a non-toxic substance. Experts agree diatomaceous earth, a natural powder made from fossilized algae, is a good way to start.

"Diatomaceous earth is a natural option that can be effective against ants and other insects. It is safe for pets when used correctly and works by dehydrating pests," says Dr. Kathryn. 

Simply sprinkle the powder anywhere you think you're going to need it and will get to work fighting those nasty bugs and pests. 

Brett adds, "The top option I tend to recommend is diatomaceous earth, which is great at killing insects like ants, wasps, and more while being completely harmless to pets. You can apply diatomaceous earth around thresholds you've noticed pests entering through, or even use outside around your plants and yard to help keep your garden pest-free," says Brett.

DIY solutions

Don't have any diatomaceous earth on hand? There are even more ways to get rid of roaches and fight flying ants. "Essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella can repel insects; however, they should be used with caution around pets, particularly cats, as some essential oils can be harmful if ingested or applied directly to the skin," says Dr. Kathryn. 

This peppermint oil spray is Amazon's #1 bestseller with one reviewer saying, "I spray regularly in the bathroom, especially around the drains and bathtub, and I haven't seen a single earwig or spider."

You can use more specialized ingredients for specific pests, too. "For roaches and ants, a mixture of sugar and boric acid can be an effective bait that is less toxic than conventional chemicals but should still be placed out of reach of pets," says Dr. Kathryn.

Pest management techniques

Instead of products, you can also take some action to fight off pests, like cleaning your house from top to bottom. 

Dr. Sabrina Kong, DVM & staff veterinary writer at WeLoveDoodles, says, "Integrating pest management techniques can also help manage pests safely. This includes keeping your home clean, sealing entry points, and using physical barriers like screens and door sweeps. Regularly cleaning pet feeding areas and storing pet food in sealed containers can also help prevent attracting pests."

You can also combat pests with other predators that will fight them off. 

"Another non-toxic approach is introducing natural predators, such as beneficial nematodes for garden pests," says Dr. Sabrina. These are usually sold by specialist retailers.

What should pet owners look out for when buying pest control products?

Check the ingredients on any commercial pest killer and what out for these.

Dr. Kathryn recommends "looking for keywords like 'pet-friendly' or 'safe for pets'" and steering clear of ingredients such as permethrin, pyrethroids, and organophosphates, which can be toxic to animals. 

She adds, "Additionally, consider the mode of application — sprays and powders can easily be ingested by curious pets, whereas traps and baits can be more controlled and less likely to come into contact with your pets."

There are plenty of chemicals and cleaning products you may be using indoors that could potentially harm your pet but the same goes for outdoors, too. Be sure to check the plants and flowers around your yard for any harmful properties. 

Get to know which houseplants are toxic to dogs before investing in new greenery and look for pet-friendly plants instead.

Emily Lambe
Deputy Editor

Hey! I’m Emily and I’m the deputy digital editor at Real Homes. I’m here to bring you the latest decor trends, inspirational ideas, informative how tos, the latest celeb homes style and the best budget-friendly buys. I live in a rented apartment, making the most of small spaces and using accent pieces to make things pop. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing yoga, eating chocolate or working on my skincare routine.