As we all know, summer’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather with our pets, but we need to do it as safely as possible. Here are 6 important tips from your PawSteps veterinarians to help keep the season fun for you and your pet.
- Keep Your Pet Away From Summer Toxins
Several kinds of poisons can spell trouble for pets if they get into them:
- Fertilizers and pesticides, for instance, often cause relatively mild gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, but can be more problematic if large amounts are consumed or if they contain iron or other worrisome ingredients.
- Mulch can cause a blockage inside a pet’s GI system, and cocoa bean mulch can potentially cause vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle tremors if the product contains enough theobromine and caffeine (the same chemicals in chocolate that are toxic to pets) or if a pet eats a large amount.
- Bait, even in small amounts, can cause tremors, seizures, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and other serious signs. Depending on the kind of bait, ingestion by a pet can be deadly.
- Most herbicides tend to be less of a concern, as long as the product is applied correctly and pets are kept off the yard or other treated area until the product dries completely. Follow label instructions, and be sure to dilute any runoff.
Keep the following products well out of reach or ideally locked away from pets, and keep pets away from areas where the products are being used: pesticides, rodenticides like mole and gopher bait, snail and slug bait, mulch, herbicides, and fertilizers that contain iron or bone, blood, or feather meal. Even products that are less toxic to pets can cause serious symptoms if a pet consumes a lot at one time. Close and properly dispose of used containers.
If you have a free-roaming cat, consider using pet-safe alternatives where possible or removing weeds by hand rather than using herbicides, for instance.
Call us right away at 508-234-9987 if you think your pet has consumed something toxic. During off-hours, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 (a fee may be charged).
- Watch Out for Blue-Green Algae
Speaking of toxins, blue-green algae can pose a life-threatening hazard to dogs and cats in Massachusetts in warm weather. These bacteria bloom in the summer and early fall in standing fresh, salt, or brackish water such as lakes, ponds, backyard pools, and fountains, as well as stagnant areas of streams.
Blue-green algae often looks like a slimy film, “pond scum,” or green paint spilled on the surface of the water and can also appear bluish, brown, or even red. Sometimes the blooms lurk under the water’s surface, which makes them particularly dangerous because they can’t be seen. Wind may also blow the blooms into concentrated areas near shorelines.
Pets are at risk for blue-green algae poisoning if they consume, play in, or swim in water contaminated with the algae. Signs of blue-green algae ingestion may include:
- Excessive salivation
- Trouble breathing
- Liver failure
Ingestion of even small amounts of toxic blue-green algae is often fatal.
If your pet has come in contact with blue-green algae, rinse them off with fresh water right away. If you suspect your pet has licked off or otherwise ingested any algae, call us immediately!
- Be Aware of Toxic Plants
Certain plants pose a risk to pets as well. Some may only cause GI issues, but others can be life-threatening. Plants to keep your pet away from include:
- Rhubarb (leaves)
- Tomato (the plants and unripe fruit, or green tomatoes)
- Onions, garlic, and chives
- Potato (both the leaves and raw potatoes)
- Lilies (many varieties are extremely toxic to cats)
- Sago palm (very deadly for dogs)
For more information on toxic plants, please give us a call or consult these sites:
- Beat the Heat
On days that are hot and sunny, sidewalks and pavement can burn your pet’s paw pads. If you can’t leave your hand or foot on a surface for 5 to 10 seconds, then your pet’s paws can’t take the heat either. Consider outfitting your pet with booties if you’re going to be some place where you won’t be able to stay on the grass or in the shade.
Heatstroke, or elevated core body temperature, can be deadly in pets, especially if not treated quickly. Pets with heatstroke may show the following signs (generally in combination with exposure to hot environments or an area with poor ventilation):
- Panting rapidly or noisy breathing
- Salivating or excessive drooling
- Restlessness or agitation
- Trouble breathing
- Sunken or glassy eyes
- Bright red or tacky gums
- Confusion or disorientation
If your pet seems to be suffering from heatstroke, call us right away at 508-234-9987! Heatstroke is a medical emergency.
- Beware of Fireworks
Not only can fireworks frighten pets, but they can cause burns and other injuries, often to the eyes, mouth, or paws. Some types of fireworks are corrosive or toxic if consumed; they can cause serious GI issues in pets and may even be deadly if they contain heavy metals and hazardous chemicals.
To be safe, keep your pet away from all stored fireworks, as well as far away from the area where you plan to set them off. If your pet tends to be scared of fireworks (or if you aren’t sure), consider leaving him or her at home, ideally with the TV or radio on to drown out the sound, while you attend any events where fireworks are planned.
We can also offer options, such as medications and pheromones, to help to calm your pet and reduce his or her fear of fireworks and other loud noises.
- Protect Your Pet Against Parasites
Heartworms, ticks, and fleas are all a threat in the Blackstone Valley and surrounding areas during the warmer months (and year-round). Make sure your pet is protected! Call us today to refill your pet’s parasite preventives.
Your PawSteps Vet Can Help
If you have questions about keeping your pet safe this season, please give us a call. We’re here for you and your pet!