Tips to Keep Your Pet’s Outdoor Adventures Safe

Are you ready to start the warm weather season on the right paw for your pet? After a long, cold Saint Louis winter, heading outdoors can prove not-so-sunny for pets and their owners. Warm weather celebrations, spring cleaning and home improvement projects may present potential pet hazards.

Warmer weather may mean more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your contact information.

Pet microchips are available at the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, local veterinarian offices, and most animal shelters. A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.

This is the season to hit the highway for vacations and weekend getaways. The lure of the road is a powerful force as dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces. It can be very dangerous to allow dogs ride in the bed of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows! Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse. Pets in vehicles should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.

Many pet families welcome spring breezes by opening windows. Unfortunately, this may put furry friends at risk, as pets may be tempted to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows. If you have adjustable screens, make sure they are tightly wedged into window frames.

Spring showers bring flowers and an onslaught of insect pests! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program. The clinic at the Animal Protective Association of Missouri can recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.

Spring cleaning can also hold hidden hazards for pets. Be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all commercially sold cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.

This is also the time of the year for household projects and fix-ups. Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.

Spring is the time to let your garden grow but check before you plant. Many popular seasonal plants including Easter lilies, rhododendron and azaleas are highly toxic to pets. A garden threat may come in a variety of volunteer of poisonous plants and native flowers that are dangerous to curious pets. For example, mushrooms are among the most commonly pet ingested organic material in the yard during the summer. Remove mushrooms you find growing in the yard. Mushrooms are a fungus and they can grow quickly, even overnight, so check your yard frequently.

Wildlife is active in the spring and coyotes are among our Saint Louis urban wildlife population. Coyotes are increasing in the Saint Louis area. During the spring coyotes are on the prowl for food for their pups and are aggressive with family pets. It is smart to go out with your pet late at night and if you see a coyote, make a lot of noise to scare it off. You can make your property safer for pets with fencing, getting rid of debris piles, high grass and weedy areas. This will also reduce your risk for encountering a venomous snake.
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