Spring usually means cleaning and getting outside for some quality time in your yard. For those of us who are pet owners, spring is an important time to understand the dangers that come with the season. I took a few minutes to chat with Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director at the ASPCA's Poison Control Center, for the scoop on pet dangers we should be aware of.
The first—and probably most recognized—of these dangers is candy. Improperly placed Easter basket leftovers are tempting for your furry friend, so be sure to keep all candy out of reach. Explain to your children why your pet can't have candy and where they need to keep their candy stash so that it is up and out of the way from your pet. See other holiday hazards for pets.
If over the long winter months cobwebs and clutter have accumulated in your house, spring-cleaning fever is sure to hit soon. Cleaning products can be toxic to animals and left-out mop buckets look like a watering bowl to them. Preventing ingestion of cleaning products is as easy as keeping your household cleaners on high shelves or in locked cabinets.
"Just like you would childproof your home, pet-proofing is important, too," Wismer says. "You may need baby locks on your cabinets or baby gates to keep your dogs out of areas where they can get into trouble just as you would with a toddler."
Wismer also urges pet owners to remember that despite their knowledge of pet toxins, your guests might not be as familiar. Be sure to communicate with your guests what is OK and what isn't. Simple things like leaving a purse on the floor can be dangerous if a curious pet begins to snoop.
Your garden can pose many dangers for your pets, too. Some plants you might be considering for your garden this year could be poisonous to your pet. Plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, yew bushes, or lily of valley can all be harmful to your pet if eaten. Additionally, insecticides and mold growing on your compost pile can be deadly. To prevent indigestion of these outside agents, try fencing your gardens with chicken wire or using exercise pens when your pet is unattended.
It's important to also remember that all pets are different. An older dog might not get into dangerous toxins, but a new puppy could be a different story. As they begin to teethe, they are going to want to chew on things, so be sure those unintentional "chew toys" aren't dangerous to them. Also, consider the activity level of your pet and the breed—many breeds are known for ample curiosity.
"Our number one phone call to poison control is about Labrador retrievers," Wismer says. "They are big dogs that can get on the table or counter, and they are retrievers so everything goes in their mouth."
Prevention is always the easiest choice when it comes to protecting your pet from pet dangers, but if for some reason they get into something, it's important to know the warning signs. Vomiting, seizures, and abnormal lethargy are all common symptoms of toxic ingestion, but your gut is the best indicator. "You know your pet best; if it's not acting normal it's time to give the vet a call," Wismer says.
There are several 24-hour pet hospitals and phone lines you can contact in case of an emergency, so be sure to have your local numbers on hand. For more information on keeping your pet safe this spring and for a toxic plant list, visit aspca.org.