Spring Has Sprung! Keep Your Yard and Garden Safe for Your Pets

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Miniature bull terrier Mij romps with her "big brother" Evan, an Airedale terrier playing "tag, you're it!"

By Jen Munch, Rescue Rewards Coordinator for Hale Pet Door

With the long doldrums of winter now behind us and the heat of summer yet to come, it’s time for you and your pets to enjoy the green grass of spring.  But before your dog and cat head out to the backyard with you, consider whether the environment is a safe place.  The ASPCA Poison Control Center fields tens of thousands of calls each year, and lists the following main concerns:

Many outdoor plants are toxic to cats and dogs. Certain flowers, shrubs and trees can affect the heart or nervous system or cause liver damage.  So do a little research and consider your pet’s curious behavior before planting that day lily, asparagus fern or aloe plant. Go to http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/ for a complete list of toxic plants.

Fertilizer keeps our gardens and yards looking their best, but it can be a real concern for pets – especially puppies who are still exploring the world with their little mouths.  Eating large amounts of fertilizer can cause stomach problems and potentially even cause a life-threatening obstruction.  Make sure you read the directions carefully before applying fertilizer, water it in well and wait the recommended time (or longer) before letting your pets on the lawn.

Cocoa Mulch – in the form of cocoa bean shells – is popular in landscaping.  The sweet, chocolate odor attracts dogs, and ingestion has landed many a dog at the vet ER.  Watch for vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors and even elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and seizures. Better yet, simply stay away from cocoa mulch and use a non-toxic alternative, such as shredded pine or cedar bark.

Pesticides and insecticides can be deadly for pets.  According to the ASPCA, “the most dangerous forms of pesticides have the chemicals methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons.” Store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage.  Consider using organic alternatives that are safe for your pets and your family.

Fleas and ticks can cause more than an annoying itch.  They can be a real health risk, such as anemia, tapeworms, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  Talk to your vet about the right preventative for them, usually applied once a month. And always remember to keep your dog up-to-date on his monthly heartworm preventative.  Do a little research before dispersing these meds though, as heartworm pills with Ivermectin are very dangerous for Aussies, English sheepdogs, collies, shelties, and other breeds.

Remember, your pets can still enjoy the fresh air and sunshine even when you are away from home.  Hale Pet Doors can be installed in doors, walls, screens, patio doors, French doors, and in glass.  For more information about Hale Pet Door, go to halepetdoor.com or call 1-800-646-4773.  Hale Pet Door wishes you and your pets a safe and happy spring.  Now go play!

The above article also appears in the April/May 2010 edition of Pet Enthusiast published by Tucson West Publishing.  The attached PDF file is for the entire magazine.  This article appears on page 7.