Winter has broken and Spring has finally arrived. You and your pet are itching to get outside, stretch your muscles and soak up some sunshine after a long winter hibernation, but be mindful of the unique hazards that Springtime activities can pose to your pet.
Let’s start with the first major Spring holiday. The tempting Easter baskets that the Easter Bunny leaves for your kids pose a particular threat to your dogs and cats. Chocolate, the staple of Easter baskets everywhere, is toxic to dogs and cats alike. Chocolate toxicity causes restlessness, panting, increased urination, vomiting and diarrhea in pets. If you suspect your pet has raided the candy stash, call your vet immediately.
In addition, the plastic grass widely used in baskets is virtually irresistible to cats. When eaten, the grass can become entangled in the kitty’s digestive tract and could require surgery to remove. Keep grass, ribbon, bows, and other enticements out of paw’s reach.
Lilies and other Spring flowers and plants can be especially fatal to cats who enjoy munching on houseplants. Amaryllis, chrysanthemums, and even tulips are highly toxic to cats in particular, and should be kept away from indoor cats and highly protected from outdoor kitties.
Spring cleaning! Throw open those windows, put on some music and wash away the winter, but keep your supplies safely away from the resident pets. Commercial cleaning products contain many chemicals toxic to dogs and cats alike. Fastidious felines can pick up trace amounts of these chemicals on their paws and ingest them while grooming, so keep kitties off of freshly-scrubbed counters or floors until completely dry. You may also consider switching to natural or non-toxic cleaners; here is a how-to on making your own.
Just like us, our furry friends can suffer allergies to plants and pollens that make Springtime beautiful. Some allergies can trigger potentially-fatal (though rare) anaphylactic shock. Watch for signs of labored breathing, frantic and repeated scratching, licking, or biting at the skin or paws, or inflammation in the ears. If you observe these symptoms, call your vet; many pet allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but you should always consult your vet before treating at home.
With warm weather comes the return of fleas, ticks, and other creepy crawlers that can’t wait to latch onto your cat or dog. Work with your vet to select the best flea, tick, and parasite prevention method for your pet. Frontline, Advantage, and many other topical solutions are extremely effective at killing fleas once they have bitten your pet, but some also repel fleas before they even bite. In addition, you can spritz your pet with a solution of water and fresh citrus juice (orange or lemon work well) for a little extra repellent armor, as fleas in particular avoid citrus scents.
The onset of Spring is one of the best times of the year for your pets who have been itching to get more outdoor time all winter. With a little preparation, you and your pet can enjoy a lovely and healthy season together. Investing in a dog insurance or cat insurance policy may be a good place to start.