Spring is a wonderful time of year in Minnesota! As the snow melts, everyone is happy to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather; however, as pets get outside with their owners, they are at risk for illness or injury. Please be aware of the following hazards to your pet this spring!
1. Dangers in the Yard
- Fertilizers, Herbicides, & Pesticides: Many lawn chemicals contain toxic ingredients that are harmful to pets. These products are most dangerous if your pet eats them directly out of the bag. Often, pets will experience vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, or in severe cases, can even be fatal. The most dangerous types of fertilizers are ones that contain iron, carbamates, organophosphates, or leftover byproducts (such as bone meal or blood meal). After treating your lawn, keep your pets off the area for the product’s recommended amount of time (typically two days).
- Cocoa Mulch: This type of mulch is popular for its pleasant odor and color. However; it is toxic to pets! Cocoa mulch is made with cocoa beans which contain theobromine and caffeine – the same toxic components of chocolate. Since this mulch smells like chocolate, dogs are especially more tempted to eat it. Just like with chocolate, pets may experience vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, increased heart rate, and seizures.
- Rodenticides and Snail or Slug Baits: When eaten by our pets, rodenticides or snail and slug baits can cause fatal internal bleeding, tremors, seizures, and organ failure. Symptoms can take hours to days to develop. Seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect your pet ate either of these toxins.
- Plants: There are many types of plants, flowers, and vegetables that are toxic to pets. One of the most dangerous plants are lilies, which can cause life-threatening kidney failure in cats. Before planting anything in your garden or bringing plants inside your home, check ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant Guide to find pet-friendly garden, as well as indoor plant, options.
2. Keepin’ Clean
- Cleaning Products: Many cleaning products can be toxic to pets and cause chemical burns or skin irritation. Pets, especially birds, can also develop respiratory difficulty from the fumes or airborne irritants. It’s best to always keep pets in a separate room while cleaning and do not let them back into the area until everything is dry or the fumes have aired out. Always keep cleaning products and laundry supplies in a secure location, out of your pet’s reach.
- Antifreeze: Ethylene glycol in antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets, but our pets will readily drink the sweet-tasting liquid. This can quickly cause fatal kidney failure. If you have pets, use the less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze and always keep all types of antifreeze out of your pet’s reach.
3. Bites, Stings, & Parasites
- Bites & Stings: Pets can have extreme reactions to insect stings and bites. If your pet suddenly develops swelling, hives (red spots on their skin), itching, and vomiting – they are most likely experiencing an allergic reaction. Your family veterinarian can provide treatments to stop the reaction.
- Parasites: Warm weather brings mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Bites from these parasites can give your pet infections with bacteria or parasites. If your pet is not currently on flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives, talk to your family veterinarian to get started!
4. In the Car
- Safety First: While in the car, your pets should always be properly restrained with a seatbelt harness, kennel, cage, or carrier. This will keep pets safe if in an accident and prevent them from distracting the driver. Additionally, pets should never be able to hold their head or shoulders out of the vehicle as this puts them at risk of jumping out of the car, being injured by items along the road (signs, trees, etc.), or damaging their eyes, ears, and face as insects and debris fly by.
- Too Hot: Remember, the inside of a car gets hot very quickly in warmer weather. As we welcome those warmer, sunny days, it’s important to remember to never leave your pets in the car when you are not there to regulate the temperature.
5. Out and About
- Dog Parks: Dog parks provide great exercise. However; they also put your dog at risk for fights and wounds from other dogs, infection with gastrointestinal parasites, and muscle strains or sprains. Monitor interactions with other dogs closely, and keep your dog on a heartworm preventative that also treats gastrointestinal parasites. For little dogs, “small dog only” dog parks are the safest option – take advantage of them if you have one available to you!
- Lost Pets: Keep your dog on a leash while out for walks or hikes. Unleashed pets are at risk of being hit by a car, getting injured if in a wooded area, or running away as they chase after a squirrel. In addition to using a leash, we recommend having your pet microchipped & wearing an ID collar so they can hopefully find their way home if they get lost.
We hope these recommendations help you and your pet have a wonderful spring! If you have any questions about keeping your pet safe this spring, contact your family veterinarian. In the event your pet experiences a pet emergency and your family veterinarian is unavailable, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota has two emergency facilities located in Oakdale and St. Paul.