Spring is a glorious season. Snow melts, vibrant colors begin to dot the landscape, and baby animals pop up in green spaces. But it's not all fine and dandy. Pests thrive this time of year too, and gardening materials can harm unsuspecting creatures, including your pets. These are just two of the dangers domestic animals face, and knowing the risks and what to look for can save your lil' buddy a trip to the hospital or even its life.
With all the changes in the air, you might not be the only one responding to the pollen and dust with breathing difficulties and itchy skin. You may notice sneezes and coughs from your pets that mirror yours or the scratching, licking, or chewing of skin. Monitor the symptoms to prevent infection and chat with your vet about the best way forward.
That icy edge that usually envelops you is receding, and you're keen to open your windows to let the fresh air in. Pause for a second. Do you have a cat or a rambunctious dog to protect? If the window is high off the ground, it presents a potentially fatal fall risk. Ensure you screen your windows before you let in any breeze.
With more pleasant temperatures, you may want to go for longer or more frequent walks. Test your dog's fitness first. They may be rusty and need time to adjust to an active outdoor lifestyle. More snakes are out and about, so watch where you step, including around fallen logs at the park. Don't let your fur baby drink from stagnant puddles. In addition, it's a good idea to organize shots and microchipping for your pet if you haven't already, and they happen to jet off.
Spring flowers like azaleas, daffodils, hyacinths, rhododendrons, and tulips are pretty pitfalls. If you love your botany and your dog, you'll have to fence off an area for your bulbs and create a safe space for your pooch to hang out, play, and dig. You can also lay mesh over the soil you've tended to. Pull out wild mushrooms if you notice any—the fungi can also make your pup sick.
Your neighbors may use rat poison when the weather gets warmer, so keep a beady eye out for lethargic rodents that your cat or dog may ingest. Keep garden products like slug pellets locked away in a shed and follow label instructions carefully—they often come with pet-related guidance. Don't use weed killers willy-nilly; if you're composting, the bin should be secure enough to withstand curiosity. Did you know that coffee grounds in mulch can cause caffeine toxicity? These are the small details that can make a difference.
Rather than increasing the risk of poisonings and chemical burns, try attracting birds with a bird feeder and water fountain. They'll eat the problematic bugs organically.
Springtime brings all the pests to the yard—and yes, we said that to the tune of Kelis's song "Milkshake."
You can keep fleas and ticks linked to Lyme disease at bay with routine garden maintenance to prevent tall, shady grass and a moist environment. Mowing your lawn, removing weeds and fallen leaves, and avoiding overwatering are optimal, and so is a running water feature rather than a still pond that could attract mosquitoes. Check your pet's fur frequently and put them on doctor-approved flea prevention treatment.
You may haul out even more household detergents than usual when shifting between seasons and tidying up. These can be harmful, even if they're labeled as natural. Be sure to keep your products in a spot your pet can't reach. If you suspect your buddy has consumed something toxic, don't try to make them throw up, or complications could arise. Call your emergency vet immediately and get your pet to the practice as soon as possible.
Easter lilies are a lethal no-no if you have a cat—even brushing against one or coming in contact with the water it's been standing in can have negative effects. You should also refrain from feeding your fur babies chocolate.
Plus, it's bunny and easter egg season. We know those cute little chicks and rabbits are tempting, but if you're thinking of getting some, do your research. They're more high-maintenance than you believe and deserve diligent care.
If you do get a bunny, you'll need to pay attention to its teeth. Dental problems have knock-on effects that can kill. Rabbits produce two kinds of droppings: soft and hard. They usually eat the soft kind, but if they have dental issues, their bottoms attract flies that produce flesh-eating maggots. This is life-threatening, and cases go up when temperatures do.
With the hotter weather, your pets will spend more time in your yard. But without shady spots to exercise or rest, they can overheat, or their skin can suffer from overexposure.
Trees are a welcome reprieve, but you can put up a pergola or temporary structure. Some dogs relish paddling pools, too but keep a fresh bowl of water nearby for drinking because chlorinated water can cause an upset stomach.
Reinforce your fence to prevent dangerous escapades, jumps, and tunnels, and plan for home improvement projects. You may have to confine your pet to ensure they don't step on nails inadvertently or inhale paint.
While you're dusting off the cobwebs, hungry foxes are shaking off the winter, and hawks are flexing their talons for the hunt. If you don't want your puppies and kittens to be their next meal or contract a virus from a bite, you'll have to batten down the hatches by monitoring your pets every time they go outside and securing your perimeter.
If it gets wet in your region during spring, you'll see more snails sliming about, which is a concern for dog owners because that slime can play host to lungworm larvae. Lungworms live in doggy hearts and can lead to weight loss, bruises, bleeds, and death. Your dog's vet can prescribe prophylactics.
The weather gets warmer, and the cats, too, are in heat. Spaying and neutering your cats won't just stave off an unwanted pregnancy but can also assist with behavior. Intact animals spray excessively and vocalize in a manner your neighbors won't be happy about. Cats can also exhibit restlessness that leads to destruction.
Those citronella candles you put out on the tables when you're dining al fresco can be harmful, and so can skewers or cocktail sticks that can splinter and do a number on your dog's teeth or intestines. There's a similar risk to using found sticks for playing fetch rather than dedicated toys.
Winter's too cold for those refreshing drives with the wind in your pup's fur. But let them feel the breeze indirectly with the window cracked open just a little. Dogs with their heads out the window can be struck by debris or attract bugs like the ones you'll often see splattered on your window screen. Your pet should be in a crate or strapped with a special seatbelt harness.
Get your paws on the latest animal news and information