Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crucial don't-do list Protect pets from warm weather illness, injury

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Now's the time to make your list of what not to do to ensure a good summer. Pets love the warmer seasons, but spring, summer and fall pose dangers in this province that winter doesn't. You can't dodge every illness or injury, but some can be prevented.

The following is a not-to-do list meant to serve as a guideline to help keep your pet safe during warmer seasons:


1. Buy plants or mulch unless they're pet-friendly.

2. Keep dangerous pesticides and lawn-care products where your pet can ingest them.

3. Let your pet crawl under cottages or dig in infill sites where blastomycosis could be present.

4. Forget to keep your pet's vaccination schedule up to date.

5. Forget about heartworm prevention.

6. Neglect tick inspections.

7. Walk without keeping an eye open for foxtail awns,

8. Let your dog swim when algae warnings are posted.

9. Let your pet have too much exposure to the sun.

Let's examine these not-to-do-list items in detail:

1. Plants and mulches need to be purchased with caution. Unlike many products, labels on seeds, bulbs and plants rarely offer toxicity information. Also, all mulches are not created equally. Certain types of coco mulches may pose a problem.

If ingested, pets' reactions to plants or mulch can range from discomfort to death. In a previous article, Dr. Leeanne Bargen, warned that mother-in-law's tongue "causes immediate pain and swelling." She also advises owners to be careful with flowering bulbs. And some plants, such as foxglove, can be harmful to animals and humans.

The American Kennel Club suggests avoiding roses, because of the thorns. Thankfully, gardening is all about choice; a comparable plant may exist that won't pose a problem. This is why I recommend that pet lovers plan a garden. In a previous article, I lauded the books of the late Lois Hole. This Canadian gardening guru's books offer toxicity information that is vital for novice gardeners.

If you lack time to plan or are unable to get your paws on a good gardening book, tap into the wealth of Manitoba gardening knowledge at garden centres. They offer wonderful guidance when it comes to plants and pet advice.

Remember, if you are a gardening pet owner, when in doubt leave it out.

2. Pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides can also be hazardous.

Once pesticides or herbicides are spread on a yard, pets become exposed because they lick their feet, said Bargen. She recommends that if you wouldn't put a baby on the lawn after a treatment, don't put your pet on it either.

Bargen has also encountered "rat-poisoned dogs." Pets either get into the poison or eat a poisoned animal. Pet owners may wish to choose an alternative method to control rodents.

3. It's blastomycosis season. Animals that like to dig in infill sites, or crawl under cottages can become exposed to this deadly fungal disease.

Due to the nature of dogs, it's difficult to prevent it entirely, but blastomycosis can be treated. Keep an eye out for lethargy, an unproductive cough, a fever, eye infections, a limp, or sores that don't heal quickly enough.

4. Keep your pet's vaccination schedule current. With jaunts to dog parks or cottages, exposure to other animals increases. Just because your dog is on a leash, doesn't mean so is the rabid raccoon. Rabies can be a death sentence to your pet.

5. While you're at the veterinarian, make sure your dog gets heartworm treatments. This mosquito-borne disease attacks the heart, and can be deadly.

6. Summer is also tick season. Everybody say yay! Just kidding. Because ticks can carry Lyme disease, a daily coat inspection is a good idea. It might be a bit of a pain, but remember, ticks can fall off your pet and they find you just as juicy.

7. In a previous article, Dr. Dale McKague warned dog owners to watch for fuzzy foxtails. The awns (or barbs) of these plants can be inhaled. Awns can also be embedded in our pets' limbs, belly, nose and even eyes. They can cause a great deal of pain.

8. Watch out for blue-green algae. Blue-green is full of toxins that may cause a myriad of health problems or even death. The rule of thumb is that if the water is not safe for you to float or frolic in, it's not safe for your pup.

9. Never leave your pet in a car on a warm day. Also, on hot days keep the walk short or wait to the evening or morning. Always have plenty of water.

Now that I've scared the bejeebees out of you, try to enjoy the summer. Before you know it, you'll be making a what-not-to-do list for Christmas.

To double-check plants and other gardening information, check the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System website

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 19, 2012 D5

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