Attention Gardeners!

Part of Sue Ann’s Spring Blog series…

This is the time we start thinking about adding fertilizers and plant food to our gardens and lawn. If it is applied according to directions, you probably won’t have an issue with your pets getting sick from it. Try to put it down a day before it rains, so it can soak into the ground. However, you do want to make sure you don’t leave the bag open for your pet to get into because direct contact could cause serious toxicosis. You also want to make sure that your plant food and fertilizer is not mixed with other toxic products such as iron or insecticides as well because that could make them really sick too! If any of those things happen, call your vet or the emergency vet as soon as possible to prevent serious complications.

Bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, and fishmeal are also products to watch for. Not necessarily for the toxicity of the product, but because if ingested in larger amounts by a pet, they could result in a foreign body obstruction (FBO), severe pancreatitis or GI tract irritation. In addition, bone meal is often dusted on plant bulbs such as tulips, hyacinth and daffodil bulbs, which are extremely toxic to your dogs. Bone meal is highly palatable to dogs and can result in them digging up and ingesting your newly planted spring bulbs. If any of this happens, contact your vet or the emergency vet as soon as possible for treatment. You may need x-rays in the event of an FBO. You may also need fluids to help flush the system.

Mulch can be another toxin that you will need to protect your dogs from. Although it is usually shredded tree bark, it can also be compost (decaying matter) or Cocoa mulch, which is made from the shells or hulls of the cocoa bean. When it is first put down, there is a faint smell of chocolate, which is pretty enticing to dogs. If your dog decides he/she likes it and ingests more than a few licks, your dog could develop cocoa mulch poisoning, which is very similar to chocolate toxicosis. If your dog develops any of these clinical signs: agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, panting, tachycardia, polyuria, hyperthermia, muscle tremors or seizures, contact your veterinarian a.s.a.p.! Treatment may be necessary for 72-96 hours after ingestion or until the clinical signs are gone.

So, just a reminder – when doing your spring gardening, remember that there may be products which are toxic to your dogs and cats. The prognosis for the poisoned pet is fair to excellent when it is treated immediately. When in doubt, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

( The information in this piece was summarized from “Fertilizer Dangers for Pets” by Dr. Justine Lee, DVM.

Holiday Do’s and Dont’s

  • Don’t feed your dog or cat table scraps.
  • Don’t allow your pets access to bones especially those from turkeys, chickens or ham.
  • Do not hesitate to put your dog in a quiet room if you are having a house full of company and he/she gets anxious from all of the activity. It is much safer for all to protect your pet.
  • Watch any interactions between small children and pet’s, be ready to intervene if needed for everyone’s safety.
  • Don’t put tinsel on your Christmas tree. Cats are highly attracted to it, and often times will try to eat it. If they succeed, it may get tangled in the intestines and require surgery to remove it. Curling ribbon also gives the same results.
  • Do put a sweater, jacket, boots, hats or any clothing on your dog before putting outdoors.
  • As guests come and go, make sure you know where your pet is. You do not want it to get outside accidentally when guests arrive or leave.
  • DO NOT GIVE YOUR PET CHOCOLATE! Do be aware where you leave it as well.
  • Check out the website for additional safety measures you should look out for such as Poinsettia Plants and much more.

Winter Pet Care

Winter is rapidly approaching and there are many things to keep in mind regarding pet care.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Keep your cat and dog inside.
  • Outdoor dogs and felines can freeze.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can easily become lost.
  • Make sure your dog always wears ID tags.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes indoors out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • Use Morton Pet-Safe Ice Melt.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.
  • When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk.
  • Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Also consider pet boots to protect their feet from the cold ground & ice as well as protecting their pads from salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside.
  • If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
  • Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.