It’s springtime, and you can’t wait to get outside. Your pets feel the same way! After a long winter cooped up, it’s fun to enjoy the nice weather, but it’s not all long walks and trips to the park. From allergies to insects and so much more, spring is filled with potential for illness and injury. Here’s what to watch for, inside and out, to keep your pets safe this season.
Hazard #1: Spring Cleaning
You do your spring cleaning to make everything fresh for the new season. Unfortunately, almost all chemicals, even natural ones, are harmful to pets. That includes soaps, bleach, polishes, and cleaners, all of which can irritate your pet’s skin and damage their gastrointestinal tract if ingested. In addition, cleaning supplies like sponges can present problems if eaten.
- Whenever possible, use natural cleaners that are marked safe for pets.
- You can make your own natural cleaning solution of baking soda and vinegar. Mix one-part baking soda to two parts vinegar (e.g. ¼ cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar). Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
- Pets like to drink from the toilet. Avoid adding toilet cleaner to the water; that could make them sick.
- Store cleaning products out of paws’ reach. Keep pets safely away while you’re cleaning.
Hazard #2: Home Improvement
Spring is a popular time for home improvement projects in and around the house. Beware of nails, staples, blades, and power tools, as they could injure your fur baby. Paints and solvents also can be toxic, and can cause chemical burns.
- Keep your pet in a pet-safe area during home improvement projects. Do not let them wander around unsupervised.
- Be aware that the loud noises from power drills and saws can be frightening for your pet. It could even scare them into running away. Consider asking a family member or friend to take your fur baby on a walk or to stay with your pet during the project.
- Clean up the area completely. Store tools and supplies safely out of reach.
Hazard #3: Lawn Care
The fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides that we use on our lawns can be dangerous if pets eat them. It can be tempting because bone meal is used in some fertilizers, and dogs love bones Manure is also a popular choice. (Enough said.)
- Dilute fertilizer with plenty of dirt and water.
- Keep your pets away from treated areas for at least 24 hours.
- Don’t let your fur baby walk on recently fertilized areas. The poisons can be absorbed through their paws.
Hazard #4: Poisonous Plants
Plants grow and flower in springtime, and many are toxic to animals. Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. Rhododendrons and azaleas can be fatal if eaten by your fur babies. Even drinking water from a vase filled with tulips and daffodils can be dangerous. If you live in the western part of the U.S., be on the lookout for foxtails, a type of grass-like weed. Not only can they get stuck in your pet’s hair, but they can also work their way up into their nose and ears, causing serious infection and even death.
- Identify the plants in your house and get rid of any that could be toxic to your pets. Replace them with pet-friendly plants.
- Identify the plants in your yard that could be dangerous. Fence or block them off so your pet doesn’t have access.
- Supervise your fur babies when they are outside. Provide alternate entertainment such as a game of fetch to keep them occupied.
Hazard #5: Spring Allergies
Just like humans, pets can be allergic to dust, plants, and pollen that are everywhere in the springtime. Look for signs of allergies, such as itching, minor sniffling, and sneezing. Your fur baby may also repeatedly bite or lick its paws, rub its face or shed excessively.
- Bathe your dog with a hypoallergenic shampoo. Ask your vet for recommendations on how often.
- Wash your pet’s bedding in hot, soapy water. Do the same for any plush toys. Dry them on a hot dryer cycle to kill dust mites.
- If you suspect allergies, take your pet to the vet to get tested. Your vet can provide allergy medication for much-needed relief.
Hazard #6: Bugs
The bugs come out in spring. Fleas, ticks, parasites, hide in tall grass and crawl on your pet. Mosquitos can nest in stagnant water. Buzzing insects can cause painful stings and even life-threatening injuries. Even the sprays and treatments to control these pests can be toxic. Slug bait is poison mixed with sugar and can be fatal if ingested.
- Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventative to guard against heartworm-positive mosquitos.
- Even if you use a flea/tick preventative, check your pet after each walk.
- Keep insect repellents out of pet’s reach. They can cause neurological damage.
- If your pet is stung by a bee, use an ice pack to keep the swelling down. A bag of frozen peas works well. Remove it often so you don’t cause frostbite. If swelling is severe or your pet has difficulty breathing, go to the vet at once.
Hazard #7: Windows
We’re tempted to open our windows wide in the spring, to let in that beautiful weather. Before you do, make sure that your window screens are secure. More than one fur baby has fallen through a window screen that wasn’t.
- Make sure your window screens are sturdy and have a snug fit. There should be no holes or gaps.
- Always supervise pets around open windows, especially cats.
- Keep your fur baby from hanging out of the window in your car. Flying debris can enter their ears or eyes and cause problems. Abrupt stops can also launch them out the window. Always secure your pet in a crate or a seatbelt harness specially designed for them.
Hazard #8: Rising Temperatures
The warm spring temperatures can sometimes be pretty hot, depending on where you live. That puts our furry friends in danger of overheating.
- Make sure your pets are well-hydrated, and have access to fresh drinking water and shade if they are outside.
- Check that the drinking bowl isn’t dirty from pets sticking paws in it to play or cool down.
- Do not leave pets unattended in vehicles. The temperature inside a car can quickly become dangerous.
Hazard #9: Spring Holidays
Treats such as chocolate are popular at spring holidays such as Easter, Passover, and Mother’s Day. However, they’re toxic to your pets. So is xylitol, a common sugar substitute. Be aware that your special celebration may include these and other household dangers for your fur baby.
- Keep a list of harmful foods in your kitchen for easy reference. Check ingredients before you give human food to your pet.
- Never give your dog cooked bones, such as from your family dinner. Cooked bones are brittle and can splinter in a pet’s mouth.
- Supervise your pet whenever he/she is eating.
- Secure your kitchen garbage so that pets cannot access it. Put it behind a closed cabinet door or buy locks for your trash cans.
Should something happen to your pet, pet insurance can help offset some of the larger costs. Remember, you can easily add pet insurance from Pet’s Best to your California Casualty auto or home policy. Find out more about what pet insurance can cover by talking with a California Casualty customer service representative today.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.