With the change of season, our thoughts inevitably turn to Easter celebrations, spring cleaning and much-needed home improvement projects. But the new balmy weather can prove not-so-sunny for curious pets—or their unwitting parents. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor fun, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your delicate, furry friend. A few quick tips to help avoid problem….
- Easter Treats and Decorations – Keep Easter lilies and chocolate bunnies in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats, dogs and ferrets, and lilies can be fatal if ingested by our furry friends. And be mindful, kitties love to nibble on colorful plastic grass, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration. Moreover, while bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care and make less than desirable pets for those who do not have appropriate space or expertise for care!
- Screen Yourself – Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows. If you have adjustable screens, make sure they are tightly wedged into window frames.
- Buckle Up! – While every pet parent knows dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the bed of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them. An unsecured dog inside a vehicle or in the bed of a truck will become a missile in the event of an accident, definitely at risk for injury and/or death and may cause injury or death to anyone they come into contact with. Many jurisdictions now have laws making it illegal to transport an unsecured pet in a vehicle.
- Spring Cleaning – Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all commercially sold cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage. And remember that a pet walking on a wet floor that has been cleaned with a chemical cleaner/bleach will invariably lick those feet, thus ingesting the chemical which will now become in ingested poison.
- Spring Cleaning 2 – There is just something about spring that makes us want to “clean”. When cleaning out the bathroom cabinets use care when disposing of old, outdated or left over medications. Do not dispose of old medications in the garbage to prevent your dog from finding and ingesting them. Human cold, allergy and sinus medications, especially those containing pseudoephedrine, can be toxic to dogs. Prescription drugs and pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil), can also be very toxic. According to Health Canada, it is best to return expired or unused medicine to a pharmacy for proper disposal. They do not mind doing this.
- Home Improvement 101– Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.
- Let Your Garden Grow—With Care – Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients aren’t meant for four-legged consumption and can be fatal if your pet ingests them. Always store these poisonous products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. In our climate, slugs are a real problem and slug-bait is commonly used. This product is highly toxic for dogs that seemed to really love the taste.
- Poisonous Plants – Time to let your garden grow! But beware, many popular springtime plants—including Easter lilies, rhododendron, daffodils, tulip bulbs, oleander, tomato vines, grapes, garlic, onions and azaleas—all are highly toxic to pets and can easily prove fatal if eaten. Keep poisonous plants out of your home and yard or have measures in place to prevent Fido from gobbling them.
- Ah-Ah-Achoo! – Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
- Pesky Little Critters – April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round flea and tick control program.
- Out and About – Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off. Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your address, cell number and any other relevant info.
- Sick again? – With warmer weather and a renewed interest in outdoor activity comes more potential exposure to infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, parasites). More exposure to other pets (dog parks, walking trails, parks) means more likelihood of exposure to infectious disease. Ensure that your pet has a current vaccination history to ensure adequate protection against common infectious disease. When were your pets last vaccinated?
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