9 Toxic Springtime Hazards That Can Get Your Pet Seriously Sick
With warmer weather comes increased risk for pets—from lawn care products to certain blooms to open windows. Here's how to dramatically reduce the risk these hazards pose to your pet, so you can enjoy many more springtimes with your four-legged friends in years to come.
Did you know this much loved bloom can kill? All lilies are toxic to cats, but Easter lilies, like poinsettias around Christmas, can be extra troubling because they are frequently in easy reach of curious kitties. Lily toxicity results in acute kidney failure, and without immediate treatment, can result in death in a matter of days.
With Easter and Passover just around the corner, it may be tempting to toss your furbaby a slice of ham, a ham bone, or a shankbone to show them some love, but hold that thought! Many common “people foods” can make dogs and cats sick. Ham and other fatty meats can cause pancreatitis, an incredibly painful inflammation of the pancreas, and cooked bones can splinter and cause digestive upset or even puncture the soft linings of esophagus, stomach, or intestines, requiring surgery to repair.
The days are warming up, and while it might be nice outside for humans, many dog breeds are especially sensitive to warmer temperatures, including brachycephalic (squish-faced or short-nosed) breeds like boxers and pugs, as well as long-haired breeds. Dogs can succumb to heat stroke even on seemingly mild days if appropriate shade and water aren’t available. Always remember to have water available whenever you go outside with your pooch, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
You might think it’s a special treat, but candy, especially chocolate, is not safe for dogs. Chocolate toxicity can be very dangerous, particularly for small breeds as the toxic level is based on weight; it can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures. Another dangerous treat is the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is often found in gum. Xylitol can cause blood sugar to drop very quickly and result in seizures and death. Recently, studies have shown that it also causes severe liver damage. It is incredibly dangerous for pets and should be kept well away from animals. Bottom line: Be sure to keep Easter baskets out of reach of all your four-legged friends.
Not only does springtime sun bring people outdoors, but critters who have been dormant all winter are stirring, as well. This can mean run-ins with all kinds of creepy crawlies, not the least of which are venomous snakes. Snakes can be found in a variety of environments from rural areas to suburban neighborhoods, so even if you think you don’t need to worry about them, it’s best to keep an eye out. Rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and coral snakes are just a few of the venomous snakes found in North America, and snakebite envenomation can range in severity from anaphylaxis to death.
With spring often comes unusual weather events, from tornados and thunderstorms to hail and floods, putting pets at increased risk. If inclement weather is expected in your area, having a plan in place ahead of time for you pet can save lives. And not only is bad weather potentially dangerous for pets, but it can also be quite scary. If your pet has a thunderstorm phobia—he or she might dive under the covers or under furniture or cling to you and refuse to budge—discussing treatment options with your veterinarian can make anxiety-inducing storms more tolerable.
If you love to throw open the windows in spring and feel the warm, fresh air, double-checking that your screens are securely attached can save your pet’s life. A fall from a high window, known as high-rise syndrome, can be result in major physical trauma and even death. Likewise, open windows are like a blinking exit sign for curious pets. Make sure your pets have identification tags on their collars and ask your vet about microchipping, so if your four-legged baby gets lost, they can find their way back home.
Lawn care chemicals and sprays
People love their yards and take pride in a lush bed of green, but some of the chemicals commonly used to improve or beautify the landscape can be dangerous to your pets. Certain sprays used for insect control contain ingredients that cause seizures in cats, while some fertilizers can cause problems ranging from respiratory distress to tremors and seizures. Always read labels carefully before purchasing lawn or pest control products to ensure that they won’t endanger your pets.
Mole, rat, and slug poison
Spring is prime time for nuisance vermin like mice and rats, moles and voles, and slimy slugs. If you put out poison for them anywhere on your property or in your house, even if you ensure that it is unreachable by your pet, your animals could still be exposed if they catch one of the vermin the poison was intended for. Baits and poisons for these animals can cause bleeding disorders and neurological problems that can result in death if not treated promptly. These are the 50 secrets your pet won’t tell you—but secretly wishes you knew.