Poisoning the roaches not the pooches.
May 13, 2006 7:35 AM   Subscribe

If the exterminator comes to kill roaches will they kill my pets too?

I live in a NYC apartment that has been relatively roach free. I have noticed a few petits amis crawling around my kitchen. The landlord has an exterminator come once a month. I'm usually never home and have never needed them, but now I'm seriously considering having exterminator come in. Especially since if my neighbors have him come in, then my apt will be a roach refugee camp. But I have a dog and a cat, should I try to put them up with a friend for a week-end? (Exterminator comes on Saturdays) Will they be affected to the point of death? Exterminator has limited English knowledge or I'd ask him and Google only comes up with advice like don't let pets eat Combat traps.

PS , I notice that my cat does absolutely nothing with any stray roaches, thereby putting lie to the notion that cats are great roach protection. Hence I don't think he'll die from dead roach consumption.
posted by xetere to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've had this exact situation. I have two cats. Basically, if you have pets, the exterminator only sprays where your pets can't reach. In my case, he sprayed behind the stove, cabinets, and fridge, and used a gel inside my cabinets (have them cleared out before he comes). As long as your pets don't have access to those areas, they should be fine. I usually have the exterminator come in on a quarterly basis. My kitties are fine.
posted by kimdog at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2006

Have you taken all other non-toxic measures to prevent/deter pests? Seal seams/cracks/outlets, leave no food traces, etc.? Here's an alternative to a exterminator.

If you don't find that sufficient and you must take the pesticide route, absolutely find somewhere else for you and your dog and cat for the duration, and also several hours to sufficiently aired out and wipe-clean your apartment. And be diligent about cleaning up any dead pests containing pesticides before your pets even accidentally swallow one.

I coming from having a dog myself that I care a great deal about, and having followed medical journals closely on various chemical effects research on animals, including human.

No matter what, pesticides are poison. The irony is, many already apply pesticides on their pets, without realizing this, and/or the harmful effect of these flea/tick pesticides. Decision depends on which you find more threatening-- pests or pesticides.
posted by MD06 at 8:33 AM on May 13, 2006

Does your landlord speak English? (I assume so.) S/he should know what the exterminator's using and be willing to tell you.

That said, if it were me, I'd get myself and pets out of the apartment for awhile unless the exterminator only uses the gel stuff that they put inside kitchen cabinets. That's what my apartment building did.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:43 AM on May 13, 2006

It's better to be safe than sorry, right? Personally, i'd get them out of there.
posted by reklaw at 9:31 AM on May 13, 2006

The above responses don't seem to address the possibility that your exterminator may fumigate. One would hope that the exterminator would realize such an action would kill your pets, but if he did fumigate, it would indeed kill them.
posted by WCityMike at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2006

I think they'd charge extra for that service...

Seriously, the stuff they use is a nerve toxin. Kitty's clean themselves by licking. (Dog's too but only strategically located genitalia). I'd take them on a field trip for a day or so.
posted by Gungho at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2006

I had the same thing happen not too long ago, for ants.

While the exterminators sprayed, I had the cat boarded up at the vet for the day. I brought home the cat a few hours later, after the place aired out, and we were both fine.

Board your pets somewhere for a day, they should be fine after that. But, double check with the exterminator and/or landlord, to make sure.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:37 AM on May 13, 2006

95% of professional exterminators treat roach infestations, and most other indoor pest problems with a very benign, inexpensive, and readily available "roach powder" which is a combination of boric acid crystals and Diatomaceous Earth. This combination is highly effective in killing off existing infestations, and preventing new ones. The powder works over a couple weeks period of time, however, as adult roaches carry the material back to the nest, where it is eaten by other roaches, and where the DE may break down the exoskeleton of adult insects. So, in cases of very heavy infestations, some exterminators will additionally use a low dose spray containing a broad band spray poison, like malathion or pyrethrins, as a quick kill agent for adult insects, while the powder does the actual work of destroying the nest. But since the powder works best if adults track it back to the nest, only the very heaviest roach infestations will prompt any effort to spray, and this is usually done only on a call back, or as a secondary treatment on a monthly maintenance program, where ongoing complaints are received. Dogs and cats do not like the taste or smell of roach powder, and will not lick it, although it is harmless to pets and to humans in small doses. In fact, boric acid crystals are a common wound dressing and anti-bacterial agent, available at most drug stores, for topical wound treatment.

There is virtually 0% chance that any human or house pet will ever be harmed by exterminator activities. The application of materials is not done professionally by aerosol (sprayers are not an aerosol mechanism), except in very special circumstances, which will require draping the areas with plastic sheeting, etc. Exterminators that used material which were toxic to pets would soon be put out of business by irate pet owner lawsuits. And, if the materials as installed were readily accessible to pets, and licked off or otherwise disturbed by pets, they wouldn't be as effective as insect controls. So, I wouldn't be concerned for the safety of pets, due to exterminator activities.

Still, for the safety of the exterminator, and to keep pets from freaking out when encountering strangers in their home, it's a good idea to shut up housepets, away from the kitchen and other areas to be exterminated.
posted by paulsc at 3:47 PM on May 13, 2006

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