Safety Tips for Animal Owners During Mosquito Spraying

As more cases of West Nile virus (WNV)-associated illness have been diagnosed in people and horses, communities have taken steps to prevent spread of the virus. Mosquito control is the most effective means of preventing spread of WNV and many communities are including spray application of pesticides in their control programs. Although approved pesticides for mosquito control pose minimal risk when used by professionals, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offer the following tips to help animal owners limit their horses’ and other critters' exposure to these pesticides:

  • Know when pesticides will be sprayed in your community.
  • Keep pets indoors during times when pesticides are being sprayed. Elderly or debilitated animals or those with pre-existing health conditions, such as heart disease or asthma, may be more sensitive to airborne pesticides and chemicals.
  • Close windows and turn off window-unit air conditioners when spraying is taking place in the immediate area.
  • Bring your animals’ dishes, toys, and other items inside while pesticides are being sprayed.  If these items have been accidentally exposed to the spray, wash the items with soap and water and rinse well before reintroducing the items.
  • Horses should be kept in their stalls or in a lean-to during spraying.
  • Cover water troughs and water buckets.
  • Cover fishponds during spraying, as fish can be sensitive to certain pesticides.
  • If you suspect that your animal is experiencing difficulties, contact your veterinarian immediately.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and can infect people and animals. Wild birds, horses, and humans are the species most often affected; however, the virus has also been identified in cats, dogs, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels and domestic rabbits. Although these latter species may become infected, they usually do not develop clinical signs of disease.

For more poison prevention tips, please visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's web site at For more information about WNV and ensuring your animal’s good health, contact your veterinarian and visit the AVMA’s web site at

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