Caring for your pets in spring and summer
Posted by American Homes 4 Rent Team
6m read time
Apr 11, 2022
The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and our pets are ready to roam outside and bask in the lovely weather. While this time of year brings plenty of excitement, it also introduces a few things to keep a close eye on. Here are our top tips to keep your pets safe and happy during spring and summer.
Watch out for holiday foods
As winter turns to spring, it means more chances to get outdoors, and there’s the potential for more gatherings with friends and family. These events can be a lot of fun, but they can also be harmful to your pets if you’re not paying attention.
Chocolate is still the number one pet poison, according to USA veterinarians. Easter is a holiday full of the stuff, from chocolate Easter bunnies to small chocolates hidden in Easter eggs, to those special holiday Reese’s eggs. Xylitol, a sugar alcohol found in products such as gum, candy, and taffy, is also quite harmful. If your pet gets into any chocolate or candy, it could require a trip to the emergency vet, so it’s worth keeping these treats out of reach.
Other Easter decorations, including fake grass and plastic eggs, are attractive targets for your pets, too. If you hide eggs around the yard, make sure all of them get found by humans and not animals. And even if there’s no candy inside of them, keep Easter baskets out of reach of pets.
During the summer, it’s barbecue season. While one small piece of chicken or turkey likely won’t harm your pet, there are plenty of other BBQ essentials that will. Small bones from wings or ribs can introduce choking hazards, as can corn on the cob and kebabs. Grapes, raisins, garlic, and onions are also dangerous to ingest, and meat that’s burnt or basted or marinated in sauce could have a negative impact, like dehydration. During Fourth of July, sparklers and other celebratory devices may litter the backyard, adding extra items you’ll need to clean up.
Though you may want to let your pets roam around during a BBQ, it’s too difficult to ensure all your guests take proper precautions. Safely settle your pet in another room or in a gated play pen, and be sure to give them all the cuddles before and after.
Keep plants and flowers out of reach
One of the enjoyable parts of spring and summer is seeing all the flowers and plants blooming. The cold weather is behind us and we’re welcoming new colors and energy. Unfortunately, the list of poisonous plants for dogs is staggering, including sago palm, tulips, and lilies of the valley. There are several poisonous plants for cats, too, such as cyclamen, daffodils, and dumb cane.
When a pet eats a plant they shouldn’t, they’ll typically vomit and become more fatigued than usual. If untreated, toxic plants can impact major organs, such as kidneys or lungs, and eventually lead to death. Whether you purchase plants from a nursery or plant your own bulbs for spring, take a few precautions to keep your pets safe.
Use barriers or plant stands to prevent pets from reaching these harmful plants. You could also look to more pet-friendly plants, such as orchids, spider plants, or violets.
If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, call your vet or ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435, who can tell you the severity of toxicity and if your pet requires urgent care.
Jump into spring cleaning
Spring brings a sense of renewal, and that often means spring cleaning and taking stock of what we can get rid of or repurpose. While organizing and freshening up the home feels good, be careful about the cleaning products you use. Drain cleaners, rust removers, lime and calcium removers, paint, and acidic and alkaline cleaners can all be harmful to pets, causing ailments like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trouble breathing, seizure, and death.
Consider using “Safer Choice” products during your spring cleaning. The Environmental Protection Agency has reviewed and deemed more than 2,000 products worthy of the U.S. EPA Safer Products Standard, meaning they’re better for you, your pets, and the environment.
Your pets themselves deserve some spring cleaning, too. They love to play outdoors, and dogs and some cats must go outside to use the bathroom. They can pick up debris while outside, including dirt, dust, grime, ticks, and even fecal matter. Clean up any droppings immediately (either outside or an accident in the house) and use water and odor removal products when necessary.
Keep your pets regularly groomed, as well. Frequent baths and dental chews paired with toothbrushing and pet toothpaste will keep your pet’s fur and teeth healthy. Your pet most likely won’t enjoy it — then again, how many humans do you know that enjoy a trip to the dentist? — but it’s good for them in the long run. Give them lots of praise while brushing and offer them a treat when you’re done.
Achoo! It’s allergy season
Just like humans, animals can suffer from allergies. If tree, pollen, cedar, or other allergens are at higher levels, you may see your pet frequently sneezing, rubbing their eyes, and suffering from itchy skin and fur. This can happen during walks outside or even while inside the house, depending on the air quality of your home.
Beyond keeping beds and toys clean, keep an eye on how your pet reacts. A sneeze here or there is fine, but if they seem to be struggling with sniffles and are scratching or chewing on their limbs a lot, it might be time for action.
Ask your vet about potential treatments. Regular vet visits are an important part of being a better pet owner, and veterinarians can make recommendations around shots, medicine, or other solutions for allergies. They may also be able to identify the source of an allergic reaction. Outside of allergens in the sky, a pet could be adversely reacting to shampoo, soap, or other elements in the house. Treating the allergies could be as simple as switching detergents or adjusting how you bathe your pets.
Embrace the barkitecture trend
We always love a good portmanteau, but barkitecture is about more than putting two words together — it’s showing love to the pets that have helped get us through tough times. Pet owners are creating their own luxury rooms and areas for their pups.
To do something similar in your home, look at spaces you’re not currently using. Maybe the spare bedroom has more silence than guests, or a home office really isn’t making you as productive as you thought it would. Instead of letting those rooms continue to go unused, set up a dog-friendly den complete with their favorite toys, stuffed animals, blankets, and activities. You can use the area as a training zone, too, combining education with praise, scratches, and treats.
Even if cats don’t have a clever name for it (meowndation, perhaps?), they can be part of the luxury trend, too. Build a castle with scratching posts in the living room, where they can roam, explore, and file their nails in beams of sunlight.
Your pets are just as excited about the sunshine, fresh air, and bountiful nature as you are. Follow these tips and make spring and summer a safe experience for your whole family.
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