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Spring Time Safety for your Dog

Posted: 3/27/2009 | Updated: 3/3/2011

Spring Time Safety for your Dog

As the weather improves it is once again time to start those Spring-time activities around your yard and house. During this time it is important to remember your four-legged friends and pay close attention to the items you use as spring-time can bring lots of dangers to our pets.

Toxic Plants

It is extremely important to read labels and do your research before planting anything that will be within reach of your dog. There are many plants and flowers that are toxic to dogs and other pets including: Azaleas, Begonia, Bleeding Heart, Caladium, Calla Lily, Cherry Tree, Chrysanthemum, Clematis, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Foxglove, Heavenly Bamboo, Holly Berries, Hyacinth Bulbs, Hydrangea, Iris, Lilies, Morning Glory, Mushrooms, Oleander, Peach Tree, Plum Tree, Rhododendron, Toadstools, Tulips and Yew. This is by no means a comprehensive list so be sure to read product labels and consult your veterinarian if you have questions regarding the safety of a specific plant or flower. It is a good idea to discourage dogs from eating or nibbling on any household or garden plant as some are not considered toxic but can cause an upset stomach.


Certain types of mulch, especially Cocoa Mulch are extremely toxic to dogs. Cocoa Mulch is made from Cocoa Bean Shells and like other chocolate products contains high levels of Theobromine a substance that is extremely toxic to dogs. The sweet smell of this mulch will invite your dog to eat some causing severe health concerns or death.

Fertilizers & Herbicides

A nice lush lawn is something we would all love to have, unfortunately many of the products that help us achieve this are dangerous to our pets. Fertilizers can cause gastro-intestinal upset, vomiting, excess salivation, skin irritation and other central nervous system issues or death if ingested. If you must use chemicals on the lawn be sure to take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of your pets.

  1. Make sure to clear the area of any pet items before applying any chemical to your lawn, this includes food & water bowls, toys, dog houses or anything else your dog will have access to after the chemical has been applied.

  2. Keep your dog and other pets inside while the chemicals are being applied to the lawn and for at least 24 hours after the treatment is completed and possibly longer depending on the product's instructions.

  3. It is important to thoroughly wash your dog's feet with soap and warm water if they do come in contact with a freshly treated area. Remember this does not include just your own lawn. If you take your dog for a walk during the spring it is a good idea to keep them out of other's yards as you never know what they may have put on their lawn. Even sidewalks are not entirely safe as many times homeowners end up getting fertilizer and other chemicals on the sidewalk during application to the lawn.

  4. Be sure to store any unused chemicals in air-tight containers somewhere that your pets do not have access to.

Insects & Pesticides

Spring time also brings other dangers. Insects can cause illnesses in dogs and chemicals like, Pesticides to help prevent such insects bring a whole other list of concerns.

Pesticides like Fertilizers and Herbicides can be very toxic to dogs. This includes Tree Sprays, Garden Dusts, Foggers and other types of bug repellents. It is important to keep dogs off treated areas and away from open containers. Again, feet should be washed thoroughly if they do come in contact with this type of chemical.

  • Stings & Bites - We all know how annoying insects can be on our own spring-time plans but insects can be downright dangerous to dogs who don't understand what they are and like to chase things. Many dogs try to catch or swat at such insects and end up getting bitten or stung. If you see your dog scratching or rubbing it's head on the ground or you find a bump or swelling it may be that your dog has been stung by a bee. If you do find a stinger in your dog, remove it promptly with tweezers and apply a cold compress to the affected area. Some dogs, like humans, are actually allergic to bee stings and should seek veterinary treatment immediately.
  • Ticks - Ticks pose yet another concern for pet owners. Once the weather reaches 40 degrees ticks become active and start feeding. Lyme disease is becoming more prevalent in the US every year. In fact, it is now a concern in nearly every state with April to November being the highest risk months. It is a very good idea to get a Lyme Disease Vaccination for your dog if you live in one of these areas.
  • Fleas - Fleas are yet another concern for dog owners as they can cause severe skin irritation and extreme allergic reactions in many dogs. There are many types of Fleas preventives and treatments available including flea collars, baths, etc. If using one of these products, be sure to read the product instructions very carefully and never use more than one product at the same time as this may cause more harm to your dog. Never use cat products on dogs or vice-versa as the ingredients in both are specifically develop for that species and may harm the other. If you believe your dog has fleas, consult your vet for more information about the proper course of action.
  • Mosquitoes - These pesky insects can carry heartworm which is one of the major health concerns in dogs causing severe heart and lung damage. All dogs should be on a Heartworm preventative year round and annual testing is recommended. A dog needs to be tested for an existing heartworm condition prior to starting a heartworm preventative as it can be fatal if to the dog if they already have Heartworm.


With Easter right in the middle of the season it is also important to remember that many of the items we enjoy for the Holiday are deadly to dogs. Everyone loves those chocolate bunnies that are so popular around this time of the year but remember that Chocolate is Poisonous to dogs. The plastic grass that accompanies those bunnies in our Easter baskets can also be extremely harmful to dogs if ingested. That huge Easter feast can be very tasty for you but remember that table scraps can cause many health problems in dogs including Pancreatitis and death.

Home Improvement Projects

During the spring we also like to do a good spring cleaning and make other improvements around the house. It is important to keep household cleaners, paints, stains and other solvents away from your pets. Decks and other items made from pressure treated wood should be sealed every 2 years to keep in the toxic chemicals in and away from your dogs. Dogs should not be allowed to lie on or play under such decks as those chemicals can be present in the soil underneath them.


Taking pets with on vacations or outdoor excursions can be fun but you have to remember their safety as well. Swimming can be a favorite pastime of many dogs not to mention a great form of exercise. Care should be taken to keep dogs away from recreational vehicles including jet skis and boats. It is also recommended that dogs receive a bath after swimming in such an environment as fuels from these vehicles can leak into the water and get in the dogs coat. The dogs in turn try to clean their coat and ingest these harmful chemicals. The same goes with swimming in pools treated with Chlorine. If taking your dog on a fishing trip, make sure they stay away from lines, hooks and lures which may look like great fun to them but can prove very dangerous.

Landscaping & Composting

Metal lawn edging is actually a common cause of foot injuries to dogs if it is not rounded or properly covered. If you have a compost pile make sure it is enclosed by a fence or other type of container and kept away from your dog's area as they often contain some of the elements listed above that are harmful to dogs.

Other Harmful Chemicals

Slug and Snail killing pellets should never be spread in areas accessible to your dogs. These tasty pellets are extremely poisonous. If you must use such a product be sure to use a pellet holder or other type of bait trap. While you are removing those Rodent poisons and mouse traps used during the winter remember that they are also very toxid to dogs.

Signs of Poisoning

Symptoms can include lethargy, labored, shallow or rapid breathing, pawing at the mouth or holding it open, bleeding from the nose, increased salivation, frequent swallowing, increased thirst, watering of the nose or eyes, dilated pupils, blindness, apprehension, diarrhea, vomiting, pain when urinating, blood in the feces, shivering, convulsions, uncoordinated movements, tremors, weak or irregular heartbeat, high or low body temperature, or swings in temperature. These are some common symptoms which can vary depending on the amount and item ingested by the dog.

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