Spring has officially sprung! This beautiful season has a lot to offer: Warmer weather, longer days, and gorgeous gardens. But, along with the pros of this season comes some cons for our fur kids. This list is filled with potential hazards to watch for and spring safety tips!
1. Watch Out For Seasonal Allergies
Ah-Ah-Achoo! Like humans, did you know dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies too? Some common triggers include pollen, grass, weeds, mold, mildew, and dust mites. So, they’re triggered by a lot of the same things we are. But, when it comes to allergy symptoms, they go through some different discomforts.
While we typically experience a tight throat, itching eyes, runny nose, and sneezing, dogs experience intense skin issues. They get really itchy around their paws, wrists, groin, the base of the tail, muzzle, around the eyes, ears, underbelly, and armpits. So, if your dog is suffering from seasonal allergies, you may notice him scratching, licking, and biting himself a lot. He may even experience some hair loss from the constant rubbing.
I recently published an entire article about seasonal allergies in dogs, which includes some ways you can help soothe your pup’s discomfort. Check it out HERE!
2. Keep Fido Away From The Plants
You know what they say: April showers bring May flowers! Along with the warmer weather and the longer days, another huge appeal of spring is the blooming trees, plants, and flowers. Such beautiful colors! But, as you get ready to break through the ground to add some color to your yard, it’s important to know the potential dangers for your dogs.
Tulips, Hyacinths, Irises, and Daffodils are all bulb plants that are considered toxic to both dogs and cats. While these plants as a whole contain toxins that aren’t good for our pets, the toxins are most concentrated in the bulbs—making it the most dangerous part. When ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling.
Buttercups, Crokus, Sago Palms, Azaleas, and Foxtails are other common spring plants that should be kept far away from your pup’s mouth!
If you believe your dog or cat may have ingested a poisonous plant and/or is ill (or if you just have any more questions about poisonous substances) then contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Their 24-hour emergency poison hotline is 1-888-426-4435.
3. Lawn & Garden Care
Fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides … oh my! As you load up on gardening and lawn care equipment in an attempt to achieve the greenest grass on your block, make sure to read labels carefully and follow the recommended waiting period before allowing your pet back on the lawn. Also, when storing any lawn care equipment, keep them out of your pup’s reach.
4. Snake Proof
I must say, just the thought of snakes slithering around freaks me out! But, as we transition deeper into Spring, the snake population is ready to wake from their long winter’s nap. In general, pet parents should be on the lookout for snakes when the average daytime temperatures reach and remain about 60º or higher.
The most common places dogs get bitten by snakes include:
- Your backyard
- Hiking trails
- Flower beds and gardens
To help lower your pup’s risk of getting bitten:
- Always make sure to keep your dog on a leash during peak snake season—even if you’re just in your backyard. One of the most common areas that dogs get bitten is right in their backyard since most pet parents feel comfortable letting their pooch run around off-leash and not tracking every single movement. But you never know if a snake is slithering in your grass!
- Keep your grass short and the lawn manicured. This gives snakes fewer places to hide!
- If you see any holes in your yard that were made by little critters, make sure to fill them in with either soil or sod. You’ll want the area thoroughly compacted to discourage snakes from calling it home.
- Keep your trees pruned so the branches don’t blanket the ground. Why? To eliminate any hiding spots!
- Watch out for woodpiles since snakes commonly set up home there. They offer numerous hiding places to stay cool, dry, and out-of-sight.
For a complete list of ways to protect your pooch from snakes and how to snake-proof your home, check out THIS article. Plus, you can also check out THIS article for a list of warning signs and symptoms your dog has been bitten by a snake.
5. Know What To Do In Case of Bee Stings
Shortly after moving from Texas to the Charlotte, NC area, my Chihuahua got stung by a bee (photo below). The poor little guy’s face blew up like a balloon and I rushed him to a vet. The thing is, bee stings in dogs are quite common. You see, dogs are curious creatures who love to explore the world with their face and paws. So if they stumble across a flying bee or wasp, they’re likely going to want to check it out. Since bees view our dogs as threats, they go into attack mode and sting. The most common areas for a dog to get stung is their face, mouth, or paws.
Much like with humans, if your dog is stung by a bee he may experience:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Anaphylactic Shock (which can be deadly)
If your pooch is stung by a bee, stay calm and call your vet. The longer the stinger is lodged in your dog’s skin, though, the more poison or venom can drip into their body. So, if you can, try to locate the stinger and remove it by scraping it with your fingernail, a credit card, or a coin. Tweezers should be your absolute last resort because when you squeeze the stinger venom can release.
I share even more bee sting tips in THIS article!
6. Start Heartworm Prevention
Along with the beauty of spring, comes the dreaded bugs. Among the many flying insects are mosquitos. Which leads me to ask: Is your dog on heartworm prevention?
Transmitted through infected mosquitos, heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis. These worms set up home in a dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels, where they can cause devastating effects. Untreated, heartworm disease can be deadly. And, even with successful treatment, a dog may be left with permanent life-altering effects.
Prevention is recommended for all dogs — 12 months a year. It comes in oral, topical, or injectable forms. You and your veterinarian will decide what’s best for your dog. Find out more about heartworm disease HERE!
7. Watch Out For Other Bugs
Bees and mosquitos aren’t the only bugs to be on the lookout for. We’re constantly reminded about fleas and ticks. Here’s a quick overview:
Fleas are very small parasites that don’t have any wings and can jump up to eight inches high. They have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Once fleas leave their cocoons and become adults they look for a warm-blooded host (i.e. your pet) to feed off. Shortly after fleas eat their first blood meal, they breed and begin laying eggs in your pet’s fur. Some warning signs your dog has fleas:
- Intense itching or biting at the skin
- Excessive licking
- Dark specs — or flea droppings — in a dog’s coat (fleas are typically found near the tail, head, neck, and belly so check those areas first.)
- Pale gums
In THIS article, I share more about the flea lifecycle and what to do if your dog gets fleas.
Ticks belong to a species called arachnoids. They are not insects. Rather, they are related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. Ticks don’t jump or fly and aren’t usually found in trees. Instead, they hide in low places like brush, bushes, or in the grass. Normally ticks sit and wait for an unsuspecting host to walk by as they hold onto the brush with their back legs and reach out with their front legs to grab on for the ride. They start low and walk up the body to get where they want to be.
8. Prepare For Storms
If your dog tends to get anxious during storms, now is the time to start thinking about natural calming aids. I’m talking about CBD oil, a thunder jacket, Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) plug-ins, calming music, lavender essential oils, or any other type of anti-anxiety relief that works for your dog.
You may also want to designate one “safe room” in your home, where you and your dog stay during the most intense times.
9. Stay Clear of Standing Water
Along with May flowers, April showers also bring puddles of standing water. While your pooch may be tempted to walk up to a puddle, stick their tongue out, and take a little lick, don’t let them! Standing water is a breeding ground for organisms, which can lead to tummy upset and more serious health concerns, such as Leptospirosis (AKA lepto) or Giardia.
Lepto is an infectious disease caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called leptospires. This bacteria lives in water or wet soil. It can make your dog extremely sick and, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.
Giardia is a microscopic single-celled parasite that sets up house in the intestinal tract of its host. It can lead to gas, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, weakness, loss of appetite, and the list goes on. Find out more about giardia in dogs HERE.
10. Ditch the Sticks
As the temperatures rise, you’ll probably be doing more outdoor activities with your pooch. While out for a walk or on a hike, your pooch may grab a stick. Dogs seem to love running with sticks in their mouth, fetching with sticks, and chewing on sticks. But, that moment of joy isn’t worth the potential risks. You see, sticks can splinter in your dog’s mouth and/or cause an obstruction in your pup’s digestive tract. Instead, playing outside or visiting a park, bring a classic frisby or ball!
11. Brush Up On Your Dog Park Etiquette
Let me start this section by saying: A lot of people are very against dog parks and I can completely understand why. A quick trip to the dog park can either be a time filled with lots of fun and great socialization, or it can go horribly wrong. You never know if your pup is going to pick up a bad habit, if an aggressive dog will harm your canine kid, or if the other dogs are up-to-date on their vaccines. That’s not to mention the area can be a breeding ground for disease. If you plan to visit the dog park, check out THIS post filled with 6 safety tips.
12. Spring Clean The Safe Way
It’s time for some spring cleaning. As you bust out your many sprays and wet wipes, be cautious about your fur kids. They can easily get exposed to harmful chemicals, like ammonia, bleach, and chlorine. If your dog licks a recently cleaned surface that isn’t completely dry, they could wind up with chemical burns.
While it’s best to use all-natural products, even they can cause stomach upset and problems. So, when cleaning with sprays and wet wipes, keep your canine kids in a separate room until all recently cleaned surfaces are dry.
13. Watch the Easter Chocolate
Will the Easter bunny be dropping off some chocolate to your house? If so, make sure to keep it away from your pooch!
Chocolate is toxic to dogs because of the theobromine and caffeine. Those are the two compounds in chocolate that stimulate our dogs’ nervous systems, which can cause serious symptoms. The amount of theobromine varies with the type of chocolate — the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to dogs. Still, your dogs should stay clear of ALL chocolate.
While the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center receives calls about dogs consuming chocolate on a daily basis, numbers spike on holidays such as Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, contact your vet immediately and/or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – (888) 426-4435.