5 Surprising Spring Pet Hazards

5 Surprising Spring Pet Hazards

As the weather warms into spring, many of us will begin to open our windows, venture outdoors and take advantage of the sunnier days. It’s a welcome relief, for sure, but some traditional spring activities can also be surprisingly perilous for our pets. Owners should be conscientious as they take advantage of the season, and keep in mind some of the important cautions below.

1. Watch Those Chocolates

If you still have some Easter treats hanging around the house, remember that what’s delicious for us may be dangerous for our pets. Chocolate in particular can be toxic to cats, dogs and ferrets. In addition, eating the artificial grass that often comes with Easter toys and treats can obstruct digestive tracts, as well as cause severe vomiting and dehydration.

2. Be Wary of Screens  

No matter how lovely the day, don’t open a window unless there’s a sturdy screen behind it. You can test this by applying pressure with your hand until you’re sure it’ll hold up to curious paws and noses. And don’t think it won’t happen to you just because your pet hasn’t been particularly interested in windows before — many cats and dogs have been injured this way.

3. Prepare to Have a Safe Trip

We see it all the time — dogs sticking their heads out the windows of moving vehicles, or standing freely in the back of pickup trucks. This is very dangerous for many reasons. For starters, flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops — the kind you can never prepare for — can cause serious injury to unharnessed animals. We recommend that all animals in moving vehicles be secured, either in crates or in seatbelt harnesses designed specifically for them. 

4. Watch for Chemical Reactions

Doing some spring cleaning? Be sure to keep cleaners and chemicals away from your pets.  Almost all commercially-sold cleaning products contain toxic chemicals, and other household products can be just as dangerous, including paints, mineral spirits and solvents, which can cause severe irritation and chemical burns. Always follow label directions carefully. This not only helps guide how you’re using these products, but helps you figure out how and where to store them as well. If you’re doing an improvement project that requires tools, nails, staples, insulation or anything else that could be harmful if swallowed, consider designating a pet-safe-area in your home while you do your work. Just remember to clean up thoroughly when you’re done, making sure garbage cans are secure as well.

5. Get Out and About … Properly

If your pets go outside, keep them away from fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, which can be fatal if ingested. (Or better yet, keep those items inaccessible completely.) Also know that many popular springtime plants — including Easter lilies, rhododendron and azaleas — are highly toxic to pets.  Finally, keep in mind that your pet is as susceptible to bug bites as you are, but they are even more vulnerable (they can’t swat them away!). Consider a flea and tick control program to keep the bugs at bay, as well as a year-round heartworm preventive medication. As you go outdoors more frequently, your animals will want to as well. But being outside increases your pets’ chances of becoming lost, so make sure they are all microchipped and wear ID tags. (Tags should clearly show your address and phone number). Having both gives your pet the best chance of not staying lost for long.

Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT is the medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

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Image: Polina F via Flickr