Green leaves. The smell of freshly cut grass. The burst of color from lilies and daffodils and iris. Spring. It just makes you happy, doesn’t it? And well it should. Spring is a time of renewal and hope and new life. For the most part, at least. But it also can hold many dangers for our pets, things we miss in our excitement to get our lawns in shape or our pool up and running. Yes, Spring is and should be a time of joy, but it should also be a time of caution. This week learn five spring pet safety tips.
One of the first things many of us do in early spring is tackle our yard. We apply pre-emergent to head off the weeds, pellets, and granules to knock out the grubs and ants, and poisons to prevent a population explosion of mice and rats and voles. And then we turn our dogs and cats outside and wonder why they get sick.
A tremendous number of those products are toxic, if not deadly to household pets. Granules not properly applied can get caught between the pads of a dog or cat’s feet and be licked off and ingested. Rodent baits may be flavored or aromatic enough to draw in cats. Even eating the poisoned rodent can be toxic. Every year we apply poisonous our pets’ environment, and every year countless pets die as a result.
Unfortunately, we don’t have to go out and buy toxins to place in our environment as there are plenty of them just outside your door. Early spring flowers, such as lilies, are highly toxic to cats. So are iris, hyacinths, daffodils, … you know, all those lovely flowers you bring inside your home to make a lovely bouquet. Cats cannot seem to help themselves when it comes to chewing on plants, so we have to be the responsible ones and not bring those that are poisonous inside. For that matter, what’s in your yard? Along with the flowers mentioned, azaleas, dieffenbachia, oleander, and many other garden favorites can make your dog and cat quite ill. Again, spring pet safety is up to us as responsible pet owners to reduce the risks of exposure.
Plants and flowers don’t have to kill you to make you miserable, especially in the spring. Cats and dogs are just as susceptible to allergy issues as humans and can be successfully treated just as easily as we can. Itching, scratching, sneezing, watery eyes can all indicate that your furry friend needs some seasonal allergy intervention!
How many of us have gone out and completely overdone it on that first warm weekend of spring? We forgot the sunscreen, wore the wrong shoes, didn’t hydrate enough, forgot that our muscles have been on winter break? The same thing can happen with your dog, especially ones that stayed inside most of the winter. The old gal may be busting out the door to roll in the grass and soak up some sunshine and beat you to death with her favorite ball or frisbee and end up hurting herself in her exuberance. Take it easy at first and let them build their stamina back up, including to heat. Cats and dogs don’t handle extreme temperatures any better than we do. Always make sure they have plenty of shade and fresh water.
Finally, you and your dog are not the only ones wanting to get out and enjoy the sun. There are all KINDS of things waking up and hatching out and generally looking for a free meal. Snakes, scorpions, ants, ticks, and fleas are all on the move, but so are hawks, owls, coyotes, bobcats, and in some areas feral hogs. Once again, it is up to you to take steps to protect your pets.
This all sounds horrible, I know, and almost makes you want to seal up your house and never go outside again! But dealing with and defending against most of these threats involve simple, common sense and basic preparation and maintenance.
5 Spring Pet Safety Tips:
- Your Yard. Use pet-friendly products and apply as directed. Keep your yard clear of tall grass and places for critters to hide, including standing water where mosquito breeding occurs. Give your dog a safe, fenced area.
- Your Garden. If you are going to grow plants or flowers that are toxic to your pets use fencing or netting to keep a wandering nose out. Plant something pet-friendly, such as catnip, in an area away from the dangerous plant to give kitty something else to investigate.
- Chemicals. There are plenty of ways to deal with rodent infestation other than open bait. Consider self-contained bait traps that draw in and contain rodent but do not allow the pet to access the poison or poisoned animal. Keep all chemicals safely away from pets (and people!)
- Predators. It can be difficult to protect your smaller pets from predators, but your greatest asset is information. Learn what animals are in your area. Watch out and be aware of owls and hawks. Don’t let little dogs go outside unattended.
- Things that Bite. Fleas and ticks can carry a host of diseases. Snakes can be venomous. Bees, wasps, hornets, scorpions, ants- the list of things that bite and sting are endless. Keep your dog on heartworm prevent year-round and use a reputable flea and tick product. Do NOT use dog products on your kitty, as they are poisonous to cats!
Spring and early summer should be a time for enjoying outdoor activities, not rushing your pet to the veterinarian. Make spring pet safety a part of your spring routine so everyone can go outside and play!