By Kim Gilliam
Your furry family members are excited to enjoy the beautiful springtime weather right alongside you, but there are a few simple precautions you can take around your home and yard to keep them out of harm’s way as the warmer months approach.
Secured screens: As you welcome the breezy days of spring by opening the windows, you may be putting your pets at risk — especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Ensure that there are snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows.
Fertilizers and mulch: Gardening season is here, but that means the fertilizers, mulch, insecticides and herbicides that keep your plants and lawns healthy and green may be dangerous if your pet ingests them.
Always store these products in out-of-the-way places and beware of ingredients like blood meal, disulfoton or other organophosphates like iron and nitrogen, as these can cause significant irritation or be fatal if ingested.
Poisonous plants: Some spring plants pose serious dangers for pets. Here are some to avoid: tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulbs or flowers can cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Tiger, day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese show lilies are highly toxic to cats.
Rhododendron and azaleas can also be highly toxic to pets. Spring crocus can cause upset stomach if eaten, whereas Autumn crocus can result in significant gastrointestinal and respiratory distress. Lily of the Valley can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias and seizures.
Seasonal allergies: Like us, pets can be allergic to plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause itching, sniffling and sneezing, or life-threatening anaphylactic shock to insect bites and stings. Visit your vet if you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy.
Creepy crawlies: Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication as well as a flea and tick control program to help ward off the onslaught of bugs that the warm weather brings.
Avoid sticks: Sticks, which are now readily available after the winter thaw, can cause choking and severe injury to dog’s mouths and throat if they chew on them or play fetch. Bring a ball or frisbee instead.
Driving dangers: Although your pup may love the feel of the wind on their face, don’t let them stick their head out the window of your moving car. They can be hit by debris or bugs, causing eye, ear and lung injuries. And there’s simply no guarantee a dog will not jump out of the vehicle while it’s moving or be thrown out during a quick stop or sharp turn. Instead, consider crating your dog or cat for a ride in the car or use a pet seatbelt harness.
Exercise injuries: If your dog has been inactive during the winter months, start slow to help them rebuild muscle tone before allowing them to engage in strenuous outdoor activities. This will help avoid injury and muscle strain.
Taking these steps and using common sense will help to ensure that your four-legged pal has a healthy and enjoyable spring.
The writer is the co-owner of Frolick Dogs, an indoor dog gym in the Eisenhower Valley.