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April 25, 2018

Top 12 Springtime Hazards for Pets

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Spring fever is here! Not only do humans feel a sense of restlessness and excitement for the warmer weather and lengthening days, so do our pets! After being cooped up and cold, we're all ready to play outside in the warmth!

Unfortunately, spring can also bring some associated problems for pets. Here are spring's "dirty dozen" dangerous things your pet needs to steer clear of. 

1. Deconditioning injuries

Like human weekend warriors, dogs that have been cooped up all winter with reduced exercise habits can suffer injuries if we're not careful. Gradually build up your dog's tolerance to exercise and active play.

Think about your dog like you might with your own workout program. Maybe do a slow walk around the block before a game of fetch. Extend play times and walking/running times over several days. Limit high-impact activities at first to give the muscles and ligaments time to warm up and strengthen. 

2. Social interactions that go bad

Whether your cat is venturing outside again for the first time in months, or your dog is excited to go to the dog park, our pets may have forgotten their manners over the months of isolation. 

Veterinarians receive an influx of visitors in the springtime when cat fights break out and get infected scratches and bites. Speaking of social interactions, springtime is also mating time for cats, and this can cause more fighting as well as unplanned pregnancies. Get your cat neutered or spayed ASAP if you haven't done so already!

With dogs sniffing other dog's butts and other or running off to play with others, you'll want to be sure to have them on a leash until they remember how to behave around other dogs if they're out of practice.

More interactions also provide opportunities for communicable diseases. Be sure your dogs and cats are up to date on their vaccinations!

3. Bad Bugs

Not only are your pets anxious to get moving in the warm weather... so are the bugs. Hibernating ticks and fleas are waking up and they are HUNGRY. They want to feed on Fido and Fiona, and you need to be prepared with appropriate flea and tick repellants for your pets. Some of these bugs not only bother your pet, they can also carry diseases like Lyme from ticks. 

Mosquitos are also getting to be a problem for people and pets and can carry scary diseases like heartworm. Thankfully, the insect-repelling fabric technology of humans is now available for our pets. Look for our Insect Shield pet clothing, beds, and playpens!

Heartworm is more common in dogs than in cats, but cats are susceptible to fleas, ticks, and biting flies. Make sure you use cat-friendly insect repellants for your cats. Never use dog formulas on cats. 

4. Wildlife

Spring is also the time that the wildlife comes out of their dens and are ready to feed their young. Coyotes, hawks, and owls will prey upon smaller dogs and cats. Coyotes are getting less afraid of humans and are becoming savvy about living in suburban and even urban areas. Coyotes preying upon pets is rare but is a risk.

There are other wildlife creatures that may fight with your pet and cause injuries including raccoons and foxes. In general, mountain lions, bobcats, and bears rarely have encounters with pets.

The thing veterinarians worry the most about with pet/wildlife interactions is rabies and distemper. Rabies cases are on the rise in many areas, including human cases, so be sure to vaccinate your pets!

5. Leptospirosis

Another animal-borne disease to be concerned about this spring and summer is Lepto. Leptospirosis is a disease that is spread through the urine of wild animals. It's transmitted by pets drinking contaminated water. Don't leave your pet's drinking bowls outside where raccoons might wash and drink. Don't let your dogs drink standing water on walks in the wilderness. 

In areas of high leptospirosis cases, get your dog vaccinated against the disease. Fortunately, this bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics when caught early enough. Look for symptoms of lethargy, lack of appetite, congestion, shivering, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

6. Gardening products

Just like your pets, you want to get outside into the growing things. You're probably getting into your shed or garage and using various products to make your garden more beautiful. This can include fertilizers and weed killers that are toxic to pets.

Some of us are trying to use more environmentally safe products like bone or blood meal to amend the soil. But obviously, bone and blood products are going to be appealing to cats and dogs. If ingested in large amounts, bone meal can create a large cement-like bowling ball in their stomachs. Blood meal can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Use caution with any lawn and garden products around pets. Read all of the labels and keep pets off of newly-treated lawns.

7. Toxic garden plants

There are several toxic spring plants that you may need to consider removing from your garden if you have a curious puppy or a dog that eats everything. For cats, lilies can be problematic - mostly if the pollen gets on their fur and they lick it off. Refer to the Pet Poison Helpline for a complete list of garden plants to avoid and symptoms of ingestion. 

For starters, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths can be dangerous, and particularly the bulbs. Make sure your pup isn't digging them up and gnawing on them because of the yummy bone meal you've planted the bulbs with. 

8. Hot weather

Perhaps in your climate, things aren't heating up too quickly yet, but even 70-degree temperatures can turn a car into an oven in a short amount of time. Now is the time to leave your dog at home and not in the car while going on errands. 

Some climates are getting quite warm already, and certain breeds are susceptible to heat stroke even in moderate temperatures. If your dog is a snub-nosed breed with a pushed-in face, be sure they are staying hydrated and cool during exercise. For extra support for your pet, check out our dog cooling products at BaxterBoo.com!

9. Spring cleaning products

There's nothing like good weather and some vitamin D from the sun to get us energized and ready to do some spring cleaning. Some household cleaners are toxic to pets, either through ingestion or the vapors. If they're not good for your pets, chances are they aren't good for you or your human family members either.

Consider using old-fashioned cleaning products like water, white vinegar and dish soap for cleaning. There are lots of commercial earth-friendly products available as well. Some of my favorites are the new microfiber cloths that use only water to clean and do an exceptional job of it! 

10. Escaping

If you're gardening and airing out the house, chances are that the gate could get left open or your screens may be missing or in disrepair. If this is the case, your pet could escape and get lost. 

Make sure you're aware of where your pet is when they're helping with your chores. Make sure that gate latches and replace any ripped or missing screens when opening the windows. 

It may have been tempting to have taken off your pet's collar in the hunker-down months of winter. Or maybe your pet needs a fresh look for spring. Get them a pretty new dog or cat collar and make sure their pet ID tags have current information on them. 

While you're updating your pet's vaccinations for spring, make sure your pet is microchipped as well! 

11. Swimming pool danger

Spring is often when people start getting their pools ready for fun. If your pool is not pet proof, there is a chance they could drown. It's important to expose your dog to the pool and teach them how to escape. Most dogs are attracted to water and will go in, but pools don't have natural slopes like a pond, lake or river would have. For that reason, teaching them how to get out of your pool is imperative. 

12. Sunburns

You know how all of the fair-skinned folks seem to get sunburned on spring break because they are so pasty? Likewise, if your pet has been indoors all winter, their noses and other areas with thin fur can be especially vulnerable to the sun's rays. Even spring snow can be harsh for pets because when the sun comes out, it reflects off the snow and can burn those hairless undersides. 

Most human sunblock lotion is toxic for dogs. Be sure to use a pet-safe sunscreen for dogs and hairless cats. Another option is UV-blocking pet clothing. Doggles brand dog goggles and sunglasses and Rex Specs will protect your pet's peepers from harmful UV rays!  

Spring is a wonderful time of year! Keep it that way with some thoughtful planning around your pets!

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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