by Blake Herzog
As temperatures warm up everybody is itching to get outside, including our dogs, cats and other furry family members.
While this sounds like a great idea, winter’s thaw brings out some seasonal pests, allergens and other threats that pet people need to keep in mind. For example, make sure your pets are microchipped; spending more time outside means more chances to escape or get lost.
The ASPCA offers pointers toward reducing or eliminating barriers to pets having a warm, delightful spring.
Don’t get bugged!
April showers bring May flowers — and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a plan designed for your pet.
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. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Screen window screens
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 sturdy screens in all of your windows.
Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way. Almost all cleaning products, even all-natural ones, contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets.
Most dogs love to feel the wind on their faces but allowing them to ride in the beds of pickup trucks or stick their heads out of car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause ear or eye injuries and lung infections. Abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury. Pets should be secured in a crate or by a seatbelt harness.
Watch your garden, and pets
Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep plants and lawns healthy and green, but may be dangerous if your pet ingests them, so store them in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Many popular springtime plants also are highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if eaten. See www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants for a comprehensive list.
It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects. Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or burns. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools.
Look for Easter eggs
Keep lilies and candy in check — chocolate goodies are toxic to cats and dogs, and all true lilies can be fatal if ingested by cats. And be mindful, kitties love to nibble on colorful plastic grass, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration.
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