Spring Hazards

Image of a dog and cat in spring flowers.

Everyone looks forward to spring with its fresh air, colorful flowers, and sense of renewal. But there are many hazards associated with this season. We should always be on guard when it comes to our pets and potential dangers.
Many areas of the country have a problem with snails; people often put snail bait in their garden and flower beds. The most common snail bait contains metaldehyde that is very toxic to pets. Dogs will readily ingest it and will start to show symptoms in a few minutes to a few hours. Tremors and twitches can progress to seizures. One company manufactures Sluggo Slug and Snail Bait containing iron phosphate that is much safer for pets.

The Easter holiday can bring its own set of problems. Easter lilies in an arrangement of cut flowers or outside in the garden are very dangerous for cats. Ingesting even a small amount can cause kidney failure in cats. Early signs may be lethargy, drinking excessive amounts of water, and then not drinking enough, and a poor appetite. Signs of worsening kidney disease are vomiting, diarrhea, and eventually anemia.

Other Easter dangers include the plastic fake grass placed in baskets. Pets ingesting this can obstruct or the plastic grass can actually cut the intestine and cause peritonitis. Cats are especially prone to eating these linear foreign bodies. Symptoms are vomiting, lethargy, and not wanting to eat. Other items in those Easter baskets, such as chocolate, plastic eggs or toys, can also cause illness if ingested.

Warm weather that comes with spring also brings parasites, especially fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Fleas can carry tapeworms, cause allergies and skin problems, and in some areas of the country carry plague. Ticks can carry several diseases that can be transmitted to pets and people: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia. Mosquitoes transmit heartworms to dogs and cats. All dogs and cats should be on a monthly heartworm preventative and monthly flea and tick control.

Some areas of the country have a problem with foxtails, a seedpod from a weed. These seedpods have very sharp barbs that can penetrate skin or the foxtail can migrate up nostrils, into ears, eyes, or any orifice. Once inside the body they can still migrate, even into the chest, abdomen, or brain. Signs include sneezing, draining tracts in the skin, shaking the head and ears, or squinting of an eye.

Spring brings many people into their yards and gardens. New landscaping materials can also be dangerous. There is a popular new product, cocoa bean mulch, which is a byproduct of chocolate production. It is attractive and has a great odor, unfortunately dogs also think it tastes great! It contains theobromine, and its ingestion causes methylxanthine toxicosis. Symptoms are vomiting, tremors, and increased heart rate, even seizures and death can occur.

When landscaping your yard, take into consideration if the plants can be toxic to pets. There are numerous plants that are poisonous, with a variety of toxins and symptoms. Many just cause mild symptoms such as drooling or an episode of vomiting, but some plants are very dangerous, for example oleander and sago palms, and can easily cause death if ingested. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center web site is a good source of information for all types of poisons and toxins.

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  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
    ~R.H
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
    ~T.C.
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
    ~L.B.
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
    ~G.B.
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
    ~W.C
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
    ~T.F.
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
    ~P.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
    ~C.W.
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
    ~R.M.
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
    ~A.M.
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
    ~O.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
    ~Budkus
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.