Spring Holds Hidden Hazards For Your Pets

Spring has arrived. You probably feel the pull to get outside to your garden or landscaping, and you're also planning for the upcoming Easter celebration. Your furry friends are likely anxious to go outside and roll around on the warming earth. Although it's a fun and refreshing time for both you and your pets, it can also be a dangerous time for your pets if you don't watch out for the hidden hazards of Spring. Here are some things to watch out for to keep your dog or cat safe.

Easter Is Easy for Your Pets to Like

Your dog loves the excitement of the kids running around looking for chocolate bunnies and colored eggs and the yummy ham chunks that invariably end up in his stomach because of his persistent begging. Make sure your dog cannot get to the chocolate bunnies, as chocolate can be highly toxic to dogs. Also be on the lookout for products containing xylitol, the sugar substitute often found in sugar-free gum, candy, and even peanut butter. Xylitol is poisonous for dogs.

Cats aren't immune to the dangers of Easter baskets either. That fake green Easter grass packed into the baskets is fun for them to play in, but if they swallow the long strands, they can bind up the intestines, which can be deadly. That Easter lily centerpiece is beautiful, but can cause kidney damage if your cat ingests it.

As for dinner leftovers, avoid the pitiful eyes as much as possible and limit the extra treats. They pack on the pounds and the richness can irritate the stomach and in rare cases cause pancreatitis.

Your Yard Holds Many Dangers

If you are a pet parent, your landscaping choices should be about more than simple aesthetics. It needs to provide a safe and healthy environment for your furry friends. Here are some dos and don'ts when you are designing your home's outside appeal, while keeping in mind your pet's safety and health needs.

Water Hazards

If you love water pools and fountains, be aware that standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria, parasites and mosquitoes. Drinking stagnant water can cause gastric upset, diarrhea and bacterial diseases, and mosquitoes are a vector for heartworms. If you include a pool into your landscaping, make sure you empty it every other day and ensure your dog or cat is current on heartworm prevention.

Wrong Mulch

If you add mulch around trees, shrubs or borders, make sure you choose the type wisely. Cocoa mulches contain the same ingredients that make chocolate harmful for your dog. Eating cocoa mulch can cause vomiting and diarrhea, rapid heart rate, disorientation and seizures. If your dog loves chewing on sticks, she'll likely chew on bark mulch, so that's probably not a wise choice.

Poisonous Plants

When planning your gardens and landscaping, keep in mind not all plants are pet friendly. Here are a few of the ones to avoid:

  • Amaryllis: When its leaves are ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and tremors.
  • Azaleas: This common ornamental landscaping shrub can cause stomach upset and drooling, as well as lack of coordination, paralysis and even death if your pet eats its leaves.
  • Castor bean: The plant has leaves that can burn your pup's mouth, and the pod has seeds that can cause death.
  • Daffodil: This early spring flower can cause vomiting and over time, kidney failure, if ingested.
  • Foxglove: This flower has chemicals that can cause vomiting, dizziness, seizures, abnormal heart rate and death.
  • Lilies and daffodils: These spring bulbs can be toxic to dogs and cats if ingested. Pets can experience vomiting and lethargy and eventually kidney failure.
  • Oleander: This evergreen shrub can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, irregular heartbeat, paralysis, coma and in large doses, death.

Those are just a few of the plants that can harm your pet. For a more complete list, see ASPCA's complete list of toxic plants. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these harmful substances, take them to a local animal hospital.