Spring Safety Tips

by abrown


There is no question that spring is coming, regardless of the crazy weather swings and Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions.  I am perfectly happy thinking Mother Nature is menopausal and eventually we will have steady sunshine and a light breeze.  Just in time for another round of frost and snow, we’ve got your tails covered with some Spring safety tips when you start cleaning, throw open those windows, and finally get outside again.

I’m going to start with that time honored tradition of Spring cleaning.  Almost all cleaning products, even all natural ones, contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets.  Not to mention the paper towels and cleaning cloths that could hit the ground and seem like play toys.  Make sure you are keeping bottles upright and sealed tight to reduce spillage, and put away when not in use.  On that same topic, I know a lot of pet owners will leave cleaning products out on the counter for their pet sitter in case of an accident – please just leave us a note where they are located to reduce the risk of a cat or dog coming in contact with a chemical.  Please visit the Poisonous Household Products page for more information.  Have a basket, box, or bag at your disposal when cleaning out closets, making piles is easy, but it could also lead to a cat or dog running away with an article of clothing.  Dogs and cats want to play, and sadly they can ingest fabric or get tangled easily.

We have had the windows and doors closed up for the better part of the past few months, so check those screens before opening everything up. While we as pet owners are ready to welcome the spring breeze with open windows and doors to air the house out, we don’t want to put our furbabies at risk of falling out of that window or running through a flapping screen door.  Cats are more apt to fall through a loose screen since they have more than likely gotten used to laying against the window soaking up the rays all winter.  Be sure to check windows and doors for snug fitting screens that are free of tears or seals that may have weakened with the elements.  Keep in mind that screens are meant to keep bugs out, not secure pets and/or small humans inside.

Speaking of bugs and pests, ticks are creepy crawlies that can spread multiple diseases in both people and pets.  Lyme DiseaseEhrlichiosisRocky Mountain Spotted FeverAnaplasmosis, Tularemia, and Babesia are just a few of the most common tick born pathogens. The best way to protect your pet is with preventative treatment. Ask your veterinarian for advice, you can also learn more about ticks and the diseases they spread from PetHealthNetwork.   Heartworms can also infect your furbabies – not just outdoor dogs, because they are transmitted by mosquitoes.  Heartworm disease primarily affects the heart and lungs, but could also affect the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system; left untreated it can also lead to death. That being said, there are multiple effective preventatives available to your pets! I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about fleas.  They are the number one pest that pet parents dread most about the warmer months. According to PetMd these small dark brown insects prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-85 percent — so for some areas of the country they are more than just a “summer” problem.  Thankfully they are also preventable both for your pets and your home.


There are other outdoor pests that we try to eliminate – such as insects, slugs, fungi, etc., especially trying to make sure we have prize winning tomatoes in our gardens. Snail bait represents a major risk for dogs and cats and is a more common source of poisoning than you may expect. Snail and slug bait products typically contain the poison metaldehyde, and they taste sweet to pets. It’s important that you know the symptoms of metaldehyde poisoning in case your pet is exposed. According to the PetPoisonHelpline, most fertilizers contain a wide assortment of potentially toxic substances including iron and nitrogen. They could also have pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. Even if the chemicals don’t poison your pet, large amounts of fertilizer could result in gastrointestinal or pancreatic problems.

Lets move from the garden to the flower beds.  Many popular springtime plants—including rhododendron and azaleas—are also highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if eaten. Check out our full list—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your home and garden.  Not only are some of our favorite plants and bulbs toxic to pets, but bees and snakes can also pose a problem.  While it is unlikely that our pets will come in contact with snakes or bees, it is good to be aware of the symptoms of a bite. Dogs and cats react to bee stings like humans, in that it is an allergic reaction that can have swelling associated with the bite. Pet Health Network points out there are 20 species of venomous snakes in North America, and they are found in every state except Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine. A rattlesnake can bite your dog even if the meeting is not face-to-face. Rattlesnakes can strike as far as half of their own body length. Although they usually warn before striking by rattling their tail, they don’t always. Learn more about venomous snakes here.

With Spring comes Easter.  Like Christmas and Valentine’s, Easter can be fun for people and turn deadly for our pets in the blink of an eye.  Easter lilies are toxic to dogs and can be fatal when ingested by cats.  Chocolate candies are also toxic to cats and dogs.  Be mindful, kitties love to nibble on colorful plastic grass, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration. Moreover, while live bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy them—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care! They are also amazingly fragile when they are small, and sadly can be killed easily in little, unknowing hands.  If you do end up with a bunny for Easter, Dr Hardy at James River does care for bunnies, be aware that they are considered “exotic pets” because of how their bodies work, so there are only two vets in Springfield that provide bunny care.


We hope these tips help keep your pets safe around the house – we truly want to have your tails covered for spring.  If we can be of service in the future or expound upon anything covered in our blogs or vlogs, 417 Pet Sitting is happy to help.

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