After a long, cold winter, everyone looks forward to spring and getting outside. As a pet owner, you know how important the outdoors is to your fur buddy. Whether you want your pet to romp carefree in your yard, join you for a morning run, or just enjoy comfortable temperatures, you probably can't wait for the flowers to bloom and trees to leaf out. So as you prepare for a beautiful spring, consider some ways to keep your pet safe while enjoying the great outdoors in all its glory.
Dogs love snuffling around in bushes, at the bottom of trees, and in piles of leaves. It's where the best smells are lurking. While on your springtime walk, let your pet enjoy all the smells and the freedom of being outdoors, but watch for mushrooms or toadstools in these loamy spots.
Always err on the side of caution and avoid fungi in general. The worst offenders include those in the family Amanita—like the Death Cap, the red mushroom with white spots. If your pet happens to grab a questionable 'shroom, or part of one, try to put some of it in a paper bag. That way, you can show the vet if your pet reacts poorly.
Spring brings the gardening itch for many. Whether you live in a single-family home, a condo, or even in your retrofitted van, look out for gardens, lawns, and soil that may have been treated with fertilizer or pesticides. Some of these can be a problem for dogs and cats that love to dig.
Even some natural treatments, such as pyrethrins, can affect sensitive animals. If you see lawns or other areas with yellow or red flags in the ground, avoid them. Once the treatment has dried, you and your pet will be fine.
Some animal companions crave greens and nibble on whatever plant tickles their fancy. But some flowering plants aren't suitable for satisfying the munchies. Popular springtime blooms that can be harmful are lilies (including lilies of the valley), daffodils, hyacinths, azaleas, begonias, and cyclamens. Enjoy these beauties from afar when you're with your furbaby.
Achoo! Spring brings colorful flowers—and allergies. Most of us understand the misery of allergies, and pets are not immune. Itching and scratching are often signs of allergies in cats and dogs. Other symptoms include
Common outdoor allergens include mold, pollen, grass, and flea bites. Talk to your vet if your pet's symptoms persist.
It should go without saying that vehicles can be dangerous to pets. To protect them, always keep your pet on a leash when outdoors.
Did you know riding in a vehicle can also pose a hazard to your furry friends? An easy way to protect your pup is to say no to letting them ride in an open truck bed. Also, consider using a pet seatbelt extender inside your vehicle to keep your companion safer. Finally, we all know dogs love to smell all the smells while riding in your car. Crack the window just a bit—not all the way—to keep them safe.
Losing a pet can happen to anyone, no matter how cautious you are. If your usually indoor pet gets out, they may panic and try to hide, which makes them more difficult to find.
Inform your closest animal shelters if your pet doesn't come back soon. Consider microchipping so your furbaby can be identified and returned to you if they're found. For extra safety, ensure they are licensed and tagged with their name and your phone number.
Spring is a transitional season, and temperature changes can be dramatic. Days can swing quickly from chilly to surprisingly warm, and overheating can hit pets as much as humans, if not more.
As your pet becomes acclimated to warmer temperatures, have plenty of water available and a shaded place where they can hang out in your yard. Symptoms to watch for include rapid panting, drooling, and labored breathing. If you suspect your pet is overheated, remove them from the sun and hose them down with cool (not cold) water. Let them drink as much water as they like, and then place them in front of a fan to continue the cooling process.
Most creepy crawlies that find their way into your home are harmless. However, some spiders pose a particular danger, especially black widows, hobo spiders, and brown recluses. These species rarely get inside and are usually found in sheds, garages, and piles of leaves. Other creatures, including centipedes, millipedes, and scorpions, are also poisonous to pets.
Bees and wasps can also pack a real punch. If the sting just hurts, give your pet lots of cuddles. If the area starts to swell up, though, your pet might be allergic. If it rapidly gets worse or seems to be impacting their breathing, consult your vet.
As soon as it warms up, it's barbecue season. The enticing aroma of a grilling burger, steak, or chicken breast makes the mouth water, human and pet alike.
Keep an eye on your pet if they're outside while you're grilling, and remember, the smell of meat cooking can trigger even a well-trained pet. No matter what kind of grill you use, your pet could get burned or start a fire by jumping up and trying to grab a snack.
Many springtime snakes, such as garter and bull snakes, are harmless. But when hiking or walking near water, keep your eyes open for other species. Avoid the underbrush, and if you live in a dry area, be alert for snakes sunbathing on trails or rocks. Coral snakes, water moccasins, and rattlesnakes are venomous. Baby rattlesnakes deliver more venom per bite than adult rattlers.
Should your animal get bitten by a venomous snake, try to snap a quick photo of the culprit, then rush your pet to the vet for treatment. Even if the dose of venom is mild, a snake bite is an open wound and should be treated as such.
Springtime's gentle warmth means frozen bodies of water begin to thaw. Even if the ice looks solid, warming temperatures can make ice unstable. It's a good idea to keep your pet on a leash to protect them from a water accident during the spring.
Should your dog or cat break through thawing ice, don't go after your pet yourself. Call 911 to get professional help.
Above all, enjoy your pet, the changing season, and being outdoors together!