Springtime Pet Safety Tips: How Owners Can Avoid Risks of the Season

March 16, 2010 | By Amy Lieberman | Category: Care & Safety | 36 comments
Tags: care & safety, health & wellness

Owners and pets alike can enjoy spring safely by avoiding certain risks that the season brings.

Springtime is just around the corner, but the gentle season could prove to be not so kind to curious pets and unknowing pet owners.

A host of risks present themselves to dogs, cats and other companion animals, and pet parents should be able to identify these potential harms in order to keep the spring days bright, sunny, and fun for all.

The list of toxic, common household items might surprise even the most veteran, conscientious owners.

Lilies, sago palm, azalea, rhododendron, tulips, daffodils and chrysanthemums are all toxic for pets. If a cat, in particular, ingests just bit of a lily, it could lead to kidney failure. Keeping indoor plants and flowers at hard-to-reach distances could be one solution, but just to be safe, owners may want to abstain from planting these and a few other flora all together.

“My family knows not to send me flowers, since I have cats that tend to be pretty inquisitive,” said Elisa Mazzaferro, a veterinarian based in Wheatridge, Colo., and associated with the American Veterinary Medical Association. “But it’s really the Lilies that are the main culprits in the springtime. Most people don’t know that.”

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received approximately 7,858 calls in 2009 reporting ingestion of one of the aforementioned plants and flowers. That number was out of the 195,000 calls the APCC received in total last year.

The APCC released these figures, and the most common culprits for pet poisonings, in anticipation of National Poison Prevention Week, which runs from March 14 to 20. Perhaps it’s not coincidental that the week coincides with the seasonal shift, as well as with the lead-up preparations for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.

“With St. Patty’s Day, we have the risk of shamrocks, which contain soluble oxalates, and those are very poisonous to animals,” explained Camille DeClementi, DVM, Senior Director of the APSCA Animal Health Services. “And with Easter, people should be wary of Easter lilies, in particular, but also things like chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, which could also put a pet into the hospital.”

Mazzaferro said she routinely treats pets that consume the fake grass people place at the bottom of Easter baskets.

“They can cause an obstruction [in their intestines],” the veterinarian explained.

As owners venture outside more to beautify their gardens and treat their hard, dried land, they should also remain aware of the harm that certain types of fertilizer and garden products can inflict on their outdoor pets. Last year, the ASPCA responded to 2,329 calls related to fertilizer exposure, which can cause gastrointestinal obstruction and “severe gastric upset.”

Consuming flower bulbs, in particular, could result in a painful, unpleasant experience for both pets and their concerned owners, DeClementi noted.

Aside from the consumption of seemingly innocent, but truly dangerous, typical household and garden items, pets might also fall victim to one of spring’s more common, yet ultimately benign ailments: allergies.

Yes, pets can feel the effects of allergies, veterinarians explained to Zootoo, but will exhibit symptoms slightly differently from how humans do.

“When animals inhale certain pollen they tend to get itchy skin, lick at their feet, chew at the base of their tail and get a rash,” Mazzaferro said. “We don’t know exactly what the culprit is, but we recommend certain types of testing and treatment for animals with severe allergies.”

Flea and tick treatments like Frontline and Revolution could help prevent skin discomfort, as well as protect pets from unwanted bug bites and infestations, Mazzaferro says.

Yet DeClementi cautioned that pet owners use only dog products for dogs, and cat products for cats – this tip might sound obvious, but as owners sometimes “throw the tubes into a drawer without the box, and then don’t read the instructions carefully,” she explained, it’s important to keep in mind.

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Comments (33)

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Barbara B.

Barbara B.
5 years ago

Great info and great reminder!

Good Point | Reply ›


5 years ago

how easy we forget and it was nice to have a reminder, do not put out the chocolate smelling mulch. thanks for the reminders.

Good Point | Reply ›

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