This weekend is a rite of passage. We set our clocks forward an hour and our season to spring. Any fear of oversleeping is quickly replaced with the extended sunlight at the end of our day and the promise of warmer weather. Spring cleaning, preparing gardens, sprucing up around the house, and thoughts of travel get us through the last few weeks of cold weather, but each one of those activities has hidden dangers for our pets. Learn some pet safety tips for this coming spring.
Inside pet safety tips
Deep cleaning our homes is a tradition of spring. We move furniture, strip floors, scour surfaces, often without considering the effects of the chemicals we use on our pets. Household cleaners, even the natural formulas, almost always have something in them that is toxic to cats or dogs (or in rare cases even fish in home aquariums!) when using any cleaning product make sure you read the label. You don’t want to wait until your dog starts wheezing or your cat starts drooling to discover that the fumes are toxic. Bleach-based cleaners can be extreme irritants for people and pets both on the skin and through inhaled fumes. Make sure you take steps to either prevent your pet from entering the area you are cleaning or at least open a window! But make sure that window has a screen on it, or you will have a whole other problem on your hands.
Home improvement and repairs are other sources of danger. Paints and varnish should never be left out with pets in the room. Cords from power tools are sometimes just begging to be chewed. Lord help you if you leave a ladder open to your attic and have cats. (Yes, that one is mine.) Keep your work space clear, and you AND your pets should be able to survive repairs and renovations.
Rodent control presents a difficult problem if you have pets that go outside. Aside from directly ingesting rodent poisons, you must consider the possibility that your dog or cat could ingest the rodent that just consumed the poison. There are numerous alternatives to just baiting rats and mice, including containment bait stations and traps that prevent the rodent from going back into the environment. If you decide to use snap traps or spike traps be aware that you may end up catching animals other than what you intended, such as your cat, the neighbor’s cat, or even your dog’s paw. Unfortunately, people still sometimes use sticky traps, which are sheets of paper with adhesives on them that prevent the rodent from getting off of them. These traps can be effective, but they are a truly horrible way to deal with mice in that they struggle, often causing themselves physical injury that doesn’t immediately result in their death. Getting a sticky trap off a dog or a cat is a nightmare in and of itself. If you want to relocate mice, you can always use live cube traps.
Outside pet safety tips
Outside the weather will eventually warm up (allegedly) and that often leads to garden and yard work. We tend to arm ourselves with a whole host of chemicals to fight weeds and insects and pests and predators, the majority of which are dangerous to humans and just plain deadly to our pets. There are many safer products to deal with insects and weeds that those with harsh chemicals, but if you do have to use the tougher treatments read the directions and warnings thoroughly. Many can be safely used by simply keeping pets off them for a specific amount of time after application.
Now that you have the house cleaned, the mice moved, and the grubs gone its time to plant! Once again, do your research. Early bloomers such as any variety of lily are toxic to cats. Easter flowers inside present a tempting target but can end up causing severe illness and even death to your kitties. Rhododendrons and azaleas are severe toxins for cats as well. Blossoms and blooms bring bees, and there is nothing quite as sad as a dog or a cat with a bee sting on the nose. When you hear the buzzing start, it might be a good time to keep the pets indoors for a few days.
Finally, people aren’t the only species that get excited about warmer weather. Cats have been sitting at the window all weather watching birds and squirrels and will take any chance they get to bolt outside and try and get up close and personal. Dogs will follow scents of squirrel and possum and armadillo and (unfortunately) skunk until they inevitably run into trouble. Be extra cautious going in and out if your cats are door sitters. Do a little remedial training with your dog so that you are certain you can call him off if he starts on a run. If you decide to travel with your furry family get them microchipped. Anything can happen on the road and is the only way you can definitively identify your pet if they get lost.
Spring is a time of renewal, regrowth, and reinvigoration. Paying a little extra attention to your surroundings means it can also be a time of continued good health and quality time spent with your pet as long as you follow these pet safety tips.
Here are a few more pet safety tips:
1. Prepare your yard for flea and tick control. Mow, trim around your house, and clear brush from under trees. Use a safe product to eradicate infestations.
2. Don’t let water stand in puddles or containers. Mosquitoes will quickly find them for breeding grounds.
3. Make sure your pet is adequately vaccinated.
4. Start or continue your dog on heartworm preventative medication.
5. Treat both your cat and dog with a veterinarian-prescribed flea and tick preventative. Do NOT use dog products on cats!
During the month of March purchase a three month supply of Nexgard and receive a free toy or purchase a six month supply of Nexgard and receive a free toy and one free dose of Nexgard. *
*Valid for in clinic purchase only, while supplies last.