10 Springtime Safety Tips for Pets

Mar 21, 2024   ComfortAtHomePetServices   Health & Wellness

March is not only Poison Prevention Month, it is also the month that brings us Spring! The season is upon us, which means it's time to review some important pet safety tips – beyond the things that can be toxic to our pets. From potential hazards in the garden to pesky pests and common springtime cleaning chemicals, there are plenty of dangers to both dogs and cats for us humans to be aware of.

Here are 10 springtime safety tips for pets:

1. Use pet-friendly cleaning supplies

Spring cleaning is common practice this time of year, but have you checked to make sure you're keeping pets safe in the process? Many common household cleaning products can be toxic to pets, whether ingested or simply touched by paws.  Soaps, bleach, polishes, and cleaners can all irritate your pet's skin and damage their gastrointestinal tract. Cleaning supplies, like a sponge or pipe cleaner, can also present problems when ingested by a curious pet.

Opt for pet-safe cleaning supplies wherever possible, and store unsafe chemicals out of paws' reach. Consider using plain vinegar diluted with water to clean and disinfect your home. As a rule of thumb, keep your pet away from where you're cleaning, and wait for all surfaces to dry thoroughly before letting them back into the space.

2. Play it safe with plants

One of the first steps of ensuring spring safety for pets is knowing which plants are pet friendly. Most pet owners know certain plants are poisonous to pets but even your pet-safe blossoms can be troublesome if ingested by dogs and cats. Large leaves and stems (especially those with thorns!) can lead to choking and damage along the intestinal tract.

Bone meal is often used as a fertilizer or supplement when planting bulbs, all of which can be attractive to canines. Eating both the bulb and the bone meal can make for a very sick dog. If you dilute most fertilizers with plenty of dirt or water, it's often safe to use around pets (unless you have a small dog). Cat lovers, remember that lilies can cause kidney failure in felines if ingested. Do you love plants but have a cat who just can't keep their paws off? Learn here about 26 household plants that are safe for cats (and dogs!) at home.

3. Secure your window screens

It's that time of year when you can finally open your windows to experience warmer, breezier days. Keep in mind, after the long winter months, you won't be the only one welcoming sunshine and warmth. Your pet may be just as eager, and the fresh scents from outdoors this time of year could make them extra curious. As you open windows, make sure your furry friends aren't at risk of sneaking out or falling. Install sturdy screens with a snug fit and supervise your pets around any open windows.

4. Avoid using slug bait

As you're prepping your garden, it can be tempting to use slug bait (depending on where you live) to keep it protected. But as destructive to plants as these slimy critters can be, the products used to stop them can be highly hazardous to your pet's health. The toxins in typical slug bait are often mixed with sugars to attract the slugs, but it also entices pets. Even a small amount can be fatal, so ask your veterinarian about pet-safe slug control options. At the end of the day, you may just want to install a deep fence around gardens to keep both pests and pets out.

5. Avoid newly fertilized grass (for at least 24 hours)

Now that it's warmer out, it's time to show off that beautiful green lawn! Unfortunately, having the greenest grass on the block can mean using fertilizer that is poisonous and potentially fatal to pets. Keep your furry friend off the grass and away from any treated areas for at least 24 hours or opt for pet-safe products. Be cautious of organic fertilizer too — its captivating scent might tempt your dog to make a meal out of manure. Consider using fertilizer products or companies that are pet-safe and friendly.

6. Keep an eye out for foxtails

It's that time of year again: foxtail season. Foxtails, or grass awns, are a type of tall grass with elongated, bristly spikes at the ends of each blade somewhat resembling a fox's tail. It's these ends that can sneak up on your pet and cause serious problems. Once they embed in your pet's fur, they can cause serious damage like ruptured eardrums and infections. Prevent foxtail problems by regularly examining your pet's coat, nose, & ears after they've spent time outside. It's also a good idea to avoid patches of longer grass, and never allow pets to stay outdoors on their own.

7. Shed winter weight

It's hard to keep up on exercise when it's cold out, but staying cozy inside can lead to extra winter weight on your pet. Just like humans, overweight pets are more likely to develop serious conditions like diabetes, respiratory and heart diseases, and joint problems. Talk to your professional pet care specialist and your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has gained weight. They can confirm whether your pet's weight is within a healthy range. If it isn't, they can help you create a weight loss plan, which may simply include more exercise, watching food portions, or redesigning diet.

8. Schedule a veterinary dental cleaning

Spring safety for pets also involves dental health, and spring is a good time to get your dog or cat's teeth cleaned. Dental disease can cause much more than just bad breath for your pet; it can cause tooth, bone, and gum loss and lead to heart disease. Fortunately, there are multiple things you can do to prioritize your pet's oral health beyond just scheduling a vet visit. Want to explore all the available products on Chewy for dental care? Explore this link! Just as your own dentist may tell you, dental care starts at home.

9. Protect against parasites

Warmer weather in spring often leads to an increase in the population of fleas, ticks, and other parasites. These parasites not only cause discomfort to pets but can also transmit potentially serious diseases. Both dogs and cats at risk of fleas and ticks, as these tiny insects can make their way inside and onto your pet's fur via open doors and windows, shoes, and human clothing. Because they can carry a variety of illnesses (including invasive parasites), practicing monthly flea and tick control is crucial to your pet's well-being. Talk with your veterinarian or professional pet care specialist about what options may be best for your pet.

10. Prepare for the dog park

What better way to spend a sunny spring day than with your favorite furry friend at the local dog park? Here are some tips to keep your park trip safe:

  • Study up on canine body language — know what both playful and aggressive behaviors look like.
  • Make sure your dog comes when called — don't let them give dogs entering the park an overwhelming welcome, and always respect pets who need their space.
  • Know your dog's “type” and avoid dogs they feel uncomfortable around.
  • Leave toys at home that your pet is unwilling to share.
  • Don't bring your dog to the park if they're sick, behind on vaccinations (including flea, tick, and heartworm prevention!), younger than four months old, or have any behavioral issues.

Finally, consider pet insurance this spring season

Even with the best springtime safety precautions in place, you can't predict everything that may happen to your pet. Dog and cat accidents can be costly, as can surprise illnesses. If you haven't done so already, signing up for pet health insurance can be a necessary extra layer of protection, enabling you to get the veterinary care your pet family-member needs without having to worry about breaking your budget.

Having a good pet insurance plan in place throughout the year will help ensure that your pet can receive the medical care and treatment they need in case of accidents, illnesses, or unpredictable emergencies. After all, pet safety should be year-round, not just during certain seasons.

Learn more about keeping your pet safe in spring and beyond with this pet spring allergies checklist.

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