Spring has sprung! With the change of season, our thoughts turn to spring cleaning, yard work, and enjoying extended daylight hours. But with the new season comes some springtime hazards for our pets. Dr. Jae Chang, veterinarian with Prien Lake Animal Hospital, has a few tips to keep your pets safe this spring:
Pesky Little Critters
April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! "This is very important - make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program,” says Dr. Chang. Ask your doctor to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.
Easter Treats and Decorations
Keep flowers (such as lilies) and chocolate away from pets. "Chocolate goodies are toxic to cats and dogs, and all true lilies can be fatal if ingested by cats,” says Dr. Chang. And be mindful of the plastic grass and eggs, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration in pets. "Also, while live bunnies, chicks and other pets that are associated with the season are adorable, resist the urge to buy them—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care,” adds Dr. Chang.
Like us, many pets enjoy the breezy days of spring through open windows. Unfortunately, you can unknowingly put your pets at risk—especially cats. "Cats are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows, so be sure to install snug and sturdy screens,” says Dr. Chang.
While most dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the beds 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,” says Dr. Chang. "Pets riding in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.”
Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ reach! "Almost all cleaning products, even all natural ones, contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets,” explains Dr. Chang. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.
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,” says Dr. Chang. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails and power tools. He says 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
Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients may be dangerous if your pet ingests them, warns Dr. Chang. "Always store these products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully.” Many popular springtime plants—including rhododendron and azaleas—are also highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if eaten.
Like us, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. "Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause itching, minor sniffling and sneezing, or life-threatening anaphylactic shock to insect bites and stings,” explains Dr. Chang. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Out and About
Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Dr. Chang recommends having your pet microchipped. "Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information,” says Dr. Chang.
For more information about Prien Lake Animal Hospital visit prienlakeanimalhospital.com, or call 337-474-1526.