Five Springtime Safety Hazards for Dogs

by Bobbie Abdallah, Cold Noses News

Finally the effects of Old Man Winter are melting away and giving way to the beauty and warmer temperatures of springtime! But with the advent of spring, there are also new threats to your dog’s health; and what you don’t know could hurt your dog.

Below are five springtime hazards to your dog’s health and what you need to know to protect them.

Heartworm Awareness

April is officially Heartworm Awareness Month and with the emergence of the ever-thirsty mosquito, unseen heartworms may invade your dog’s heart, lungs and their blood vessels. While heartworm primarily affects the heart and lungs, they can also harm the liver, kidneys, eyes and nervous system.

Did you know that heartworm disease is also a threat to cats and ferrets?

What you might not know is that heartworms can live for 5-7 years in dogs and they can be re-infected each season leading to a potentially fatal conclusion. Another little known fact is that it can take more than 6 months for a dog to test positive after being bitten by an infected mosquito. This is because heartworms must be a least 7 months old before they can be detected.

Springtime Means Ticks Too!

Those tiny, creepy-crawly ticks can bring a world of hurt to your dog (and humans too). Most of us have heard of Lyme disease transmitted by the Deer Tick; but there are other dangerous diseases these tiny predators can infect our dogs with including:

  • Dog Fever/Dog Tick Fever;
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)/Blue Disease; and
  • Ehrlichiosis (a bacterial infection which is one of the most common and dangerous tick diseases).

Did you know the Gulf Coast Tick must be ingested by a dog to infect them?

Ticks love dark, warm and moist areas on their K9 hosts; make sure you always check these areas on your dog.

Mulch: Good for Yards but Not for Dogs

Springtime … time to clean up the yard and get serious about landscaping; and for many people this includes using mulch. But should you if you own dogs?

Keep in mind, not all mulch is created equal and while most is non-toxic to your dog, there are some kinds that may pose serious health risks to your 4-legged family companion.

For example, cocoa bean mulch (also known as cocoa bean hull mulch) can be toxic to your dog (just like chocolate). Many people like cocoa mulch because of its color and pleasant odor (which also appeals to your nose-driven dog), but it may be a dangerous choice. The cocoa bean shells/hulls (by-products of chocolate making) contain potentially toxic chemicals/nervous system stimulants. Smaller dogs are at even greater risk in shorter timeframes because of their small body size.

For dogs who love to chew, mulch can pose a possible choking hazard. It’s also possible for dogs to have allergic reactions to some types of mulch and end up with skin rashes, bumps filled with pus, wheezing, excessive itching and hives.

Did you know some colored mulch is created with recycled and reclaimed wood that could be contaminated with dangerous chemicals?

When considering whether to mulch or not, know exactly what’s in your mulch:

  • Are there added colors or dyes that could be toxic? (Red and black mulch often contain arsenic.)
  • What pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers or mold inhibitors have been added?
  • Are their essential oils or resins added to the mulch you’re considering?

Before you decide to use mulch in your yard, protect your dog by knowing the facts first; do your research, ask questions and choose a dog-friendly option.

Composting: Great for the Environment but Not Dog-Friendly

Yes, composting reduces waste and is environment-friendly. But it might also be dangerous to your dog(s), pets, wildlife and even children.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • As the contents of your compost pile break down, dangerous pathogens (illness- or disease-causing agents) and tremorgenic mycotoxins (poisons from molds which can cause tremors or even seizures) are created and can seriously harm or even kill your dog and other pets.
  • Never compost dairy, grains, nuts, legumes, breads or meats due to their tendency to become moldy.
  • Only use compost containers that are tightly sealed and secured to keep curious K9, pet and wildlife noses out of the tempting, unlimited buffet that is your compost.
  • Even small amounts of compost can be toxic within a few hours and potentially fatal.

If you begin to see any of the following symptoms being exhibited by your dog and you suspect they may have gotten into your compost, immediately seek emergency vet intervention.

Possible signs of toxicity include:

  • Vomiting;
  • Unusual panting (from increased heart rate) and/or drooling;
  • Depression or unusual change in behavior; and
  • Coma.

The Most Toxic Plant to Your Dog

It goes by many names and it can kill your dog within 15 minutes to two hours after the first signs of poisoning.

Water hemlock is a member of the carrot family and offers a strong – and enticing – carrot-like odor, especially to inquisitive canine noses. But don’t be fooled by this innocent-looking, seemingly delicate wildflower; it’s the most toxic plant your dog should avoid at all costs.

Did you know Water Hemlock is also very poisonous to humans?

Water hemlock also goes by other names including:

·       Beaver Poison ·       Poison Parsley
·       Muskrat Weed ·       Poison Parsnip
·       Spotted Water Hemlock ·       Western Water Hemlock
·       Cowbane/Spotted Cowbane ·       Bulblet-Bearing Water Hemlock

Water hemlock is found in wet areas in both North America and parts of Europe and thrives in:

·       Marshes;  
·       Swamps;  
·       Damp pastures; and  

Is found alongside:

·       Ponds;
·       Streams;
·       Irrigation ditches;

·       Reservoirs; and other water edges.

The highest levels of its deadly toxin are in the roots; but all parts of the water hemlock are poisonous and should be avoided.

Symptoms of possible Water Hemlock poisoning in dogs includes:

·       Drooling ·       Nervousness/agitation/weakness
·       Dilated Pupils ·       Seizures and/or twitching
·       Rapid heart rate ·       Difficulty breathing/choking
·       Coma  

If you suspect your dog has come into contact with water hemlock, seek immediate emergency veterinary care.

So enjoy the beauty and warmer temperatures of spring, but stay alert to the potential dangers this beautiful season poses to your unsuspecting dogs.

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