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Springtime Pet Dangers Can Be Avoided

Spring is one of the best times of the year to own a pet. It’s also one of the most risky.

For every beautiful spring day, there are hundreds of pests like ticks and mosquitoes, or threats like an open window and dangerous chemicals. It’s unlikely your pet will pass through the warmer months without some kind of exposure, although you may not know it.

Hard to See

In fact, it’s the “invisible” threats that may be most serious, and there’s no better example than heartworm. Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworm can affect both dogs and cats, though it’s more prevalent and often more serious in dogs.

Heartworm is tough because it’s spread by mosquitoes, which are difficult to eradicate completely. It’s also something of a silent killer, doing damage that sometimes difficult to detect until it’s too late. Other mosquito-born diseases include equine encephalitis and West Nile virus, though they are not common in cats and cogs.

If mosquitoes are bugging you, they are probably bugging any outdoor pets. When that happens, or even before, it’s time to act.

Like many pet issues, mosquitoes are best prevented rather than trying to eliminate after they’re established. There are too many options to discuss here, other than noting you remove any source of standing water is a first step. Mosquitoes are also most active early in the morning and late evening, and they can’t handle much more than a light breeze, so keep these facts in mind.

Other alternatives exist, and may be necessary. However, it’s worth remembering that some options, like certain types of electronic insect repellants, can annoy pets. Starting with the basics is a good idea for several reasons.

Ticks are a similar although prevention in one sense is not as useful. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably have ticks or not, but you can select paths and parks that are clear of tall grass brush where ticks hide and latch onto passing hosts.

Choose Wisely

Again, both mosquitoes and ticks can be reduced by application of chemical repellants, but be careful that you use one that’s appropriate for your pet, not only in terms of its species but size and other variables. One example includes K9 Advantix, which repels or kills mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. However, it can only be used on dogs and is toxic to cats. Repellants designed for humans, including the many products with DEET, are harmful to pets. If in doubt, check with your vet!

Other spring pet dangers are indirect but nevertheless unique to the season. Opening windows with improperly attached screens can be dangerous for pets as well as children. This is especially true for cats. Although felines can navigate incredibly narrow spaces far off the ground, it’s not a good habit to rely on.

One danger—and many may disagree—is largely related to dogs. This involves allowing your pet to stick its head out a window or ride in the back of your pickup. We know, it’s almost a time-honored tradition for some, but the dangers are very real. If there’s an accident, the dog is almost certain to be injured, even killed. Even without an accident, the danger from objects thrown up by other cars or flying insects is real. Many may resist this, but pets riding in vehicles should be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed for them.

A final note involves another tradition, major spring projects. Spring-cleaning usually comes to mind, but gardening, painting and other efforts often involve chemicals and other substances that can be dangerous for pets. And remember, if a window is open or the work is inside, birds and other indoor pets can be harmed, too.

All of this might sound like you and your pet should never leave the house. Even if that were possible, you definitely should get out. Just take a few precautions and plan ahead for a great spring.