When winter turns to spring, often new pet dangers come with it – not the least of which is spring flooding. This year, floodwaters in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick have risen to historic levels, closing roads and highways and forcing thousands of people from their homes.
And when people have to evacuate, so to do their pets. And, depending on the urgency of the situation, sometimes furry friends can’t accompany their owners to shelters or emergency housing.
What To Watch For When Spring Has Sprung
However, everything is NOT gloom and doom. Spring is also a joyful season full of new life. We love it, and so do our pets.
So, we’ve compiled a list of top 10 spring (and warm weather) hazards to look out for to be sure everyone stays safe and healthy.
- Flooding – those in flood prone areas have been hit hard this spring, and emergency responders are working to rescue any pets left behind. Despite being good swimmers, dogs do perish in floods due to hypothermia, debris injuries and drownings. Be prepared and have an evacuation plan that includes your pets. If leaving pets behind, either confine them to an upper house level with an ample supply of food and drinking water, or, is your home is low to the ground, leave them untethered with an escape route. Leave a sign (or signs!) to alert rescuers, describing all the pets in your residence.
- Parasites and insects – fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, bees, wasps…the list goes on when the warm weather hits. Some transmit disease, such as Lyme disease and heartworm, while others can cause painful bites and allergic reactions. Talk to your vet about flea, tick and heartworm prevention. Start a monthly flea and tick preventative once temperatures are above 4°C and a Heartworm preventative during mosquito season.
- Lilies – these springtime favorites are extremely toxic to cats. All parts of the plant and even pollen can cause potentially fatal kidney failure. If your cat eats any part of a lily flower, take him/her to a vet immediately.
- Open doors and windows, more outdoor time – be vigilant to prevent dogs and cats from running out into the street or falling from balconies or windows. Spring is also a time when veterinary emergencies see increased numbers of lacerations, dog on dog bites, high-rise falls and vehicular accidents. Microchipping will give you peace of mind should your pet wander off.
- Household cleaning products – most of these are extremely toxic if ingested. During Spring cleaning, ensure that you safely store them and do not allow your pets into freshly cleaned areas until product has been wiped or dried.
- Gasoline or motor oils – be mindful of what you store in your shed or garage if pets have access – and where you store it. Basically, think of your pets as curious children.
- Lawn treatments – certain fertilizers and pesticides can cause serious gastrointestinal upset, even seizures and potentially death. Keep your pets away from freshly treated lawns.
- Car rides – some dogs just love sticking their heads out the windows of moving cars even at high speeds. A harness seatbelt can keep dogs safely within the vehicle. Now, if the only way Fido will enjoy the warm weather ride is full on head-out-the-window stance, we recommend investing into a pair of “Doggles” or similar eye protection. And for those who like their dogs to ride ON the vehicle, such as a pick-up truck bed – our advice is: just don’t.
- Allergens – as with people, pets can experience seasonal allergies. Spring air is full of pollens and other allergens. Most common signs of allergies in pets are itchy, red skin and/or ears, licking and chewing paws and sneezing. It’s time to see a vet should you suspect allergies in your pet.
- Thunderstorms – dogs who have thunderstorm phobias may pace restlessly, become destructive in high panic mode, or hide and shake in fear. If you suspect that your dog has a thunderstorm phobia, we suggest you talk to your veterinarian and/or a behaviour specialist to help build confidence and relieve anxiety during those spring and summer thunderstorms.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the warmer weather. We’ve certainly earned it after this past winter.
Dr. Branka Grubor is a Toronto based “Fear Free Certified” veterinarian, and provides a low stress, welcoming vet visit experience to all pets and their human companions.