Think Spring, Think Pet Safety

Friday, April 15, 2016 | Pet Health

Pet Safety in Spring

Spring is in the air, which means it’s time to get out and smell the flowers! …or maybe you shouldn’t. As newly revealed plants bloom outside and spring cleaning begins inside, pets are introduced to new dangers. Read on to learn more about potential springtime dangers to your pet and how to avoid them.

The Pesky Blooms

Flowers may be beautiful, but they can also be dangerous for your pet. According to Pet Poison Hotline, many common spring flowers can cause issues for your pet. The most common ones include:

  • Tulips: This flower’s toxic principle is very concentrated in the bulbs, so keep pets from digging up the bulbs. Eating these bulbs will result in tissue irritation in the mouth and esophagus. This results in profuse drooling, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Hyacinths: Much like tulips, hyacinths are mostly dangerous in bulb form. Eating this plant also results in tissue irritation, which results in drooling, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Daffodils: This pretty yellow flower contains an alkaloid that triggers vomiting in your pet. This can occur when your pet eats the bulb, plant or flower. Besides vomiting, daffodils can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression.
  • Lilies: There are a variety of lilies out there and only some of them are dangerous. Lilies that result in tissue irritation include peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies. More dangerous, and potentially fatal, lilies are the “true lilies.” These include tiger, day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies.
  • Crocuses: There are two versions of the crocus plant: one that blooms in spring and one that blooms in autumn. When consumed, spring crocus results in general gastrointestinal upset. The autumn version, however, is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage and respiratory failure. If you suspect that your pet has eaten a crocus plant, go to a veterinarian immediately.
  • Lilies of the valley: Like their relative, foxglove, eating lilies of the valley results in vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias and possible seizures.

Don’t Forget the Fertilizer

In addition to flowers, there are plenty of other yard and garden ingredients to avoid. The most common ingredients according to Pet Poison Helpline include:

  • Blood meal: This is dried, ground, and flash-frozen blood and contains 12 percent nitrogen. While it’s a great organic fertilizer, if ingested, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Plant fertilizers: Some of these fertilizers contain disulfoton or other organophosphates (OP). As little as 1 teaspoon of 1 percent disulfoton can kill a 55-pound dog, so be careful!
  • Pesticides/insecticides: Most pesticides or insecticides (typically those that come in a spray can) are basic irritants to the pet and are usually not a huge concern unless a pet’s symptoms become persistent.
  • Iron: This is commonly added to fertilizers, and can result in iron toxicity (from ingestion of elemental iron). Large ingestions can result in vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and potential cardiac and liver effects.

While not quite as common as the above ingredients, Cocoa shell mulch should also be a concern. This aromatic mulch is made from the shells of cocoa beans can be extremely toxic to curious dogs because it often contains both theobromine and caffeine, which are the same ingredients that make chocolate off-limits to pups.

According to Pet Health Network:

To avoid any poisoning risk to your pet, follow the labeled instructions carefully and keep your pets inside while you apply these products to the lawn. To be safe, keep your pets off the lawn until the product is absorbed by the soil (e.g., when the product dries if it’s a spray-on product, or after it rains if it is a pelleted product). When appropriately applied or diluted, these chemicals typically wash into the soil after rainfall, resulting in low-risk to dogs.

Obviously, this is a short and specific list of substances that can harm your pet. When in doubt, the Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-213-6680.

Spring Cleaning

In addition to those lovely blooms that pop up, this season also means spring cleaning. Bleach, carpet cleaners, air fresheners, grout, bathroom cleaners, even vinegar can be harmful to your pet. Anything that you dig out of your cleaning closet after a long winter could be a problem. Whether or not you’re only using all-natural products, ALL cleaning products contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets, says the ASPCA. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.

Pet Safety Is a Priority

Your pet’s safety is a big concern for you, and while springtime means additional dangers, keeping an eye out for these potential dangers will greatly reduce your pet’s risk of harm. If you suspect that your pet has eaten one of these plants or chemicals, contact your local veterinarian or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

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