Springtime Safety Tips for Cats and Dogs

Flowers, fresh air, convertibles and sunshine — these are a few of our favorite Spring things.

While we hate to harsh anyone’s mellow, including our own, it’s important to note that some of these things can spell trouble for pets.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handled 199,000 cases in 2017, and some springtime toxins were among the most frequent pet dangers they were asked about. Visit their website to see the full list.

We consulted Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director for the APCC, for her best tips for keeping pets safe this season, and she stressed that attention to detail could prevent a worst-case scenario.

“It can be the seemingly little things – like remembering to close the cabinet door – that make a life or death difference for the animals we share our homes and lives with,” Wismer says.  “Many of us look forward to springtime, but for pet parents, it also means being particularly vigilant about things that could harm their animals – such as plants, garden products, insecticides, cleaning products, and open windows.”

Read on for potentials hazards around your home and beyond.

Secure all cleaning products. It may seem like a good time to open all the windows and scrub down those dirty surfaces, but make sure your pets are nowhere near the cleaners or chemicals you’re using to spring clean, or worse, ingest any of them. Wismer says that these types of household items accounted for over 17,100 cases for the APCC, making them the sixth-ranked category on the top toxins list.

Protect pets from dangerous garden products. Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides may be great for greenery but they can be death traps for animals. Insecticides ranked seventh on the toxins list, with over 13,300 cases, and fertilizers, herbicides, and soil enhancers were number ten, with over 5,000 cases handled by the APCC. Wismer says it’s important to carefully follow the directions on product labels and store all of these items in safe, pet-free places.

Nix poisonous plants. Flowers and plants sure are pretty, but some of them can be silent killers. Plants were the ninth item on the top toxins list and made up over 10,700 cases. “This includes landscaping plants, houseplants, and bouquets. While lilies are particularly dangerous for cats, Sago Palm and Oleander plants continue to be dangerous to both dogs and cats,” Wismer says. Visit the ASPCA’s website for their full list of toxic and non-toxic plants.

Windows need screens. You love the breeze in your hair, and so does your cat. But if kitty’s not careful he could fall victim, literally, to High-Rise Syndrome, by falling through an open window without realizing just how high up he is. Always be sure sturdy screens are present in each window in your home to protect pets from falls.

Car safety can save lives. This goes without saying: you can drive way better without a dog in your lap. Things can happen quickly on the road, so make sure your dog or cat is secure in a crate, pet carrier or with a seatbelt harness — which will also protect your pet if windows are open or convertible tops are down.

Bugs bother pets, too. Because mosquitos play a major role in the spread of heartworm disease, now is the time to make sure your furry friend is taking a heartworm preventative. Flea and tick control is also advised. The ASPCA says that a veterinarian can help you decide on methods that work for you and your pet.

Easter goodies can cause harm. The Easter Bunny needs to ditch these common holiday staples, stat: chocolate, plastic basket grass and Easter lilies because all are dangerous to pets. Lilies can kill kitties, plastic grass can cause vomiting and dehydration, the ASPCA says, and chocolate is toxic if ingested by cats and dogs.

Identification is key. The thing about Spring is, everyone is outside more. For that very reason the ASPCA suggests that you make sure your furry BFF is easily identifiable should the two of you ever be separated out there. Collar tags and microchips should have the most up-to-date information to ensure a happy reunion.

For more spring safety tips from the ASPCA, visit their website.

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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for People.com, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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