Springtime safety tips for cats and dogs
As spring nears, many of us are ready for spring cleaning, getting more active outdoors, and planting new blooms in our yards. With all the sunny days come many dangers for cats and dogs including surprising toxins, hazardous plants, common allergies, parasites, and more. You can protect your pets with these safety tips for springtime.
The beautiful budding trees, green grasses, and colorful flowers of springtime are welcome changes for many. But just like humans, cats and dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies. Even the dust of spring cleaning can cause an allergy flare-up in your pets.
The most common signs of allergies in dogs and cats include itchy paws, red skin or rashes, and ear infections. If you find that your pet develops any of these signs routinely in the spring, they may have allergies to things like pollen, grass, or dust. Pet allergies should be taken seriously, as they can progress to infections that require veterinary attention.
Avoid home remedies found online as some can cause more harm than good. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source for treating and identifying your pet’s allergies.
Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other parasites are a risk year-round but the odds of one of these parasites finding your pets skyrocket in the spring weather. So much so, spring is known as "flea and tick season" in the pet health care world because this is the best time to visit your veterinarian and make your parasite prevention plan for the rest of the year. It's also the best time to test for any illnesses your pet may have contracted from fleas, ticks, and mosquitos in the previous season.
Talk with your veterinarian about preventative medications for the parasites active in your area and put a reminder on your calendar to keep your pets up to date. Take extra precautions to protect your pets from fleas, ticks, and other parasites during spring, summer, and fall. If you live in a warmer climate, or travel with your pet, you may require protection year-round.
Increased opportunities to become lost
Warmer weather means more chances for your dog to become lost while on a springtime walk or on a ride to the park. While opening windows to allow a warm spring breeze through the house can be an opportunity for a cat to escape.
A lost pet is most pet owners’ worst nightmare. Having up to date pet ID tags and microchipping is the most effective way to protect your cat and dog from the dangers of becoming lost. Spring is a great time to check your pet’s microchip registration info or protect new pets with a Pet Protection Membership.
Dog safety in the car
Whether you're taking a quick trip to the vet or planning a road trip with your pet, riding loose in the car is never a good idea. Riding loose in the back of a pickup truck is the most dangerous place for your dog.
Pets riding in cars should always wear a seatbelt harness or be secured in a crate or carrier to keep them safe in an accident.
Ease into activities
Your dog probably wasn't going to the gym during the cold winter months. Avoid ‘too much too soon’ injuries like sprains and over-exertion by gently easing into an exercise plan for you and your dog gradually. This includes games like fetch that can quickly become too much for a sedentary dog.
Hot weather safety tips for pets
As spring weather welcomes warmer temperatures, our pets can struggle to adjust. Their size, shape, and hair coat can cause them to become too hot too quickly. Animals and heat, especially for older, overweight, or flat-faced pets, do not mix well.
Familiarize yourselves with the signs that your cat or dog is becoming too hot, and follow pet best practices for hot weather like walking your dog in the mornings when it’s cooler, never leaving your pet alone in a vehicle, and giving your pet access to water at all times.
Springtime toxins for pets
If you think that your pet may have consumed a toxin, contact a veterinarian immediately. Quick action can literally save your pet’s life. If your primary care veterinarian is unavailable, contact your local veterinary emergency clinic.
You can contact ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435) 24/7 any day of the year. Or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661), available 24/7/365 if you suspect your pet has gotten into a toxin.
The 24Petwatch Lifetime Protection Membership includes a 1-year complimentary subscription to whiskerDocs, a 24/7 Vet Helpline that you can call, email or live chat with veterinary professionals.
Spring cleaning supplies
All cleaning products, even all-natural alternatives, can contain harmful chemicals. When spring cleaning, keep your cats and dogs away from the area until the space is totally dry. Store all cleaning supplies out of reach of pets, as some may smell and taste tempting but contain potent toxins.
Home improvement projects
Many ambitious homeowners feel the spring fever call to launch some home improvement projects at the first sights of spring.
Common home improvement products are often highly toxic, like paints and stains. Your pet can easily get wet paint on their paws or fur and then ingest it while cleaning themself. Other projects call for a paint stripper or other chemical solutions that cause severe irritation or chemical burns.
Aside from the toxic aspects, home improvement projects also come with many physical hazards like a stray nail or screw that can be stepped on or swallowed, loose insulation that can be inhaled or ingested, and the dangers of plugged-in tools, to name a few.
While we applaud your ambition, keep helpful dogs and curious cats out of any remodeling, demo, or other project spaces.
Chocolate and other holiday temptations
Springtime comes with an abundance of celebrations and holiday activities: Easter, graduation parties, Mother's Day, and more ... these events host many opportunities for your pets to get themselves in danger.
Chocolate ranks as the leading pet toxin. It’s extremely dangerous for dogs and cats - with dark chocolate being the most toxic. Even if you keep the chocolates out of reach, many candies (particularly those labeled sugar-free) are made with xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener that’s highly toxic to dogs.
Other springtime favorites include fake grass (cats love to play with and eat shiny plastic grass), plastic eggs, candy wrappers, and small toys. Even dyed hard-boiled eggs can be appealing to dogs. Be sure to put them away so that ingestion doesn't result in GI complications or choking.
Keep an extra close watch on your pets during spring events and keep tempting Easter baskets out of reach of even the most curious pets.
Lawn and garden
Springtime is the time of budding plants, blooming flowers, and lawn and garden care. All of which can be a danger to your pets. Many popular plants used in landscaping, fresh-cut flowers, and gardens are highly toxic and even lethal to pets. The top top poisonous plants for cats are:
- Spring and Autumn Crocus
- Sago Palm
- Lily of the Valley
- Tulips and Hyacinths
While the most common poisonous plants for dogs include:
- Sago Palm
- Aloe Vera
- American Holly
- Tomato Plants
Another lawn and garden danger are the fertilizers and pesticides that keep your plants healthy but can make your pets very sick.
If you fertilize your lawn or spray for weeds or pests, look for pet-safe options and keep your pets out of treated areas. When playing with your pets in your yard, on walks in your neighborhood, and even in parks, keep them out of lawns unless you know for certain that it hasn’t been recently treated with a toxic fertilizer or pest/weed control.
If you live in an area that receives ice and snow in the winter, your roads are likely treated with snow-melt chemicals or industrial salt. As water runs off from melting snow in the spring, chemicals can accumulate in puddles, shallow streams, and waterways.
Furthermore, infectious pathogens like giardia, leptospirosis, and cryptosporidium and be contracted through contact with standing water.
Prevent thirsty pets from drinking from all standing water and avoid all unknown water sources for the best safety. Also, rinse off paws after walks to remove any chemicals, pathogens, or salt that may have been picked up along the way.
Plan ahead to protect your pets from springtime safety hazards
Spring is a beautiful time when many of us are excited to get back outdoors, and our pets often feel the same. Keeping spring pet hazards in mind and taking preventative action (like a pet first aid kit) can help you and your pets enjoy springtime worry-free.
With our Lifetime Protection Membership Plus, you can better protect your pet from springtime dangers:
Your pet’s health mishaps are covered with included one-year unlimited access veterinary professionals 24/7 your pets will have the priceless benefit of immediate health care advice.
If your pet becomes lost, the 24/7 access to lost pet recovery specialists who can quickly launch the process of finding your pet and DirectConnect which connects you with your pet's finders can arrange a quick, safe reunion.
Turn up your training techniques with simple customized training lessons for you and your pet (complimentary for 1 year, provided by Petcademy).
Try out Rover for dog walking and pet sitting services with a $30 credit. And so much more. You and your pets can thrive in the warmer months when you plan ahead to avoid springtime dangers and prepare for pet safety.