Once summer comes we know there are things we must do to keep our pets healthy and safe in the hot weather but do you know that with spring also comes a variety of things to remember to keep your animals safe, healthy and happy? Read on ...
The Great Outdoors
Waste - After winter moves on, it frequently leaves in its wake a bit of a mess on the ground. Be aware of the garbage, waste and items left uncovered by melting snows. Don't let your pet pick up and ingest items that could present choking, injury or health hazards.
Clean up your yard. Dog waste is a health hazard for pets and humans.
Water - Melting snow and lots of spring showers can result in puddles and full ditches. Don't let your dog drink from these puddles as standing water can be filled with bacteria and germs (e.g. parvo, leptospirosis, giardia) that could result in gastrointestinal upset and ailments, or worse. Also runoff from roads, lawns, gardens, etc could contain chemicals from things like pesticides and fertilizer. Generally your pet isn't likely to get very ill but do take care to limit their consumption of puddle or ditch water, ensure they always have a good supply of fresh water and, if they do seem to be exhibiting signs of illness after exposure, such as vomiting or diarrhea, make sure you check with your vet if the symptoms linger.
Standing water is also a great breeding ground for mosquitoes which, besides being annoying, can spread the deadly heartworm parasite. Dump pools, buckets and other items prone to collecting rainwater.
Mud might be fun to play in but it's no fun to have to live in it! If your pet spends time alone outdoors, ensure they have a dry and sheltered spot away from mud, showers and wind.
Bugs, big and small - With the onset of warmer weather returns the threat of fleas, ticks and heartworms. Make sure your pet resumes the flea/tick, insestinal parasite and heartworm preventives he might have taken a break from during the winter months! Ask your vet about protection from Lyme disease now, before the tick-heavy seasons of summer and fall arrive.
If you find a tick on your pet, it should be removed immediately. Take care to ensure the head of the tick comes out as well. Advice from your vet will help you prepare for ticks.
Gardening - Now that the warm sunny weather is here and the hopeful green tips of crocuses, snowdrops and the like are poking up, our thoughts turn to gardening. While we want to enjoy bright gardens and soft green lawns, free of weeds and pests,we need to consider the implications for our furry friends. Insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers can all be toxic for cats, dogs and wildlife. Many plants, both outdoor and indoor varieties, can also be harmful. Ingestion, contact and proximity can cause reactions ranging from skin reactions, burns, allergies, upset stomachs, severe illness and death. Seek natural, non-toxic alternatives for your yard care. Read the labels when choosing and using products. Be wise when choosing plants for your gardens and in your home. An extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants can be found here:
Plants and dogs Plants and cats
Cocoa mulch is especially tempting for dogs and very dangerous for your pet. Reactions ranging from stomach upset to death can result depending on your dog's size and the amount ingested.
Avoid walking your pet on lawns or yards that have been recently treated. If you are concerned that contact may have occurred, rinse your pet's paws with water after a walk. All pets should be on a leash when outdoors so you'll be aware of where your friend's been walking.
Fleas and ticks and other biting bugs can thrive in long brush. Keep your areas trimmed and mown.
Identification - Ensure your pets are identified at all times and that your information is current. Microchipping is a permanent means of identifying your animal. Tags - both personal ID tags and municipal licences - are another way to make sure your animal can be reunited with you should she stray.
Manners and mingling - Being outdoors also means meeting other pets and people. Make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccinations and be aware of your pet's behavior around other animals and people. Make sure to clean up after your pet too!
Letting the outdoors in - Unscreened windows can pose a threat to our pets who can escape or fall through the open space. Make sure your home is secure.
Cruising - Breezy car rides can also be dangerous. While a great many pups love the rush of wind in their face, be aware of open car windows where pets could jump or fall out, or debris could fly in and cause injury. Never ride with an animal in the back of a pick-up truck where he could jump out.
Allergies - People experience activated allergies in the spring - so can your pets! Is your animal scratching, licking feet, chewing at tail, pads and coat? Your pet's allergic reaction will usually be a skin reaction but symptoms can also include sneezing, swelling, redness and nasal or eye discharge. If you observe any of these symptoms a consult with your pet's vet is indicated to determine the cause and obtain some relief for your critter.
Spay/Neuter - 'Tis the season! No, not Christmas! It's the season of spring fever. This is the breeding season for many animals. Unneutered or unspayed pets should be kept indoors and away from other unaltered pets. Best yet, make sure your pets are spayed and neutered. Starting in the spring our shelter, as are many others, is overrun with litters of kittens and their mommas that people have abandoned or cannot afford to keep. In April through July of 2009, the KHS saw approximately 800 cats enter our care. Many of these were kittens and their mothers.
Grooming - Come spring, many of our pets will be shedding their winter coats, resulting in a lot of extra fur! Regular brushing and proper grooming is essential. But keeping your pet's coat trim and tidy you can avoid tick and flea infestation, skin irritations, furballs, aid your animal's temperature regulation AND minimize fuzzy couches, giant dust bunnies of pet hair and many animals enjoy a gentle brushing. This can be a quiet bonding time for human and pet.
Cats, dogs and bunnies should all have their nails regularly trimmed. If you aren't comfortable with the task, consult your vet or groomer for help.
Easter - Just as at Christmas, this holiday can bring a range of potential health and safety threats to your pets. Easter lilies are highly toxic. Easter basket stuffing can be ingested by pets and cause intestinal blockage. Chocolate is a known toxin to dogs and the rich food of holiday meals can cause stomach upset.
Cute baby bunnies, chicks and ducklings may be tempting presents for children at Easter. PLEASE don't give "easter pets" as gifts. Baby animals require special care and are fragile and not suitable pets for young children. As cute as any baby animal is, this pet will grow up. Bunnies can live ten years or longer. The KHS sees dozens of bunnies surrendered to the shelter each year.
Animals are a lifelong commitment and people should give the addition of a pet to their family long, serious and realistic consideration. Do we have time for this animal? Can we afford it?
Victoria Day - Many animals are spooked by fireworks, and can react unpredictably - panicking and bolting, leaping previously unscaled fences or popping out of screen doors. During times of celebration make certain your pets have a quiet, safe and secure place.
Spring is often a time for cleaning up after a long winter, leafy fall and in anticipation of many pleasant summer days spent outdoors. Help keep the wild creatures in your area safe by taking some precautions when you attend to your yard maintenance:
Before trimming branches or cutting brush, check the branches for bird nests.
Chimneys can often house raccoons, squirrels or birds. Check your chimney before cleaning and all chimneys should be capped with a screen or other device to prevent animals from entereing.
Windows are often a popular item on spring to-do lists but a super clean window can be a real hazard for flying birds. Add a reflective film or other visual deterrent to your clean windows to prevent birds colliding with the glass.
Before mowing your lawn, walk the area and check for turtles or bunny nests. Turtles can be moved to the edge of the lawn but rabbit nests should be left alone. Help frogs and toads out of harm's way as well.
Keep your house in good repair and patch any holes or potential entryways to prevent squirrels, birds or other creatures from taking up residence in your eaves, attic or walls.
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