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Human Interest

Spring cleaning brings a few things that can poison pets

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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If it isn't spring, it's sure doing a good job of fooling me and all the critters that are setting up household in my home, yard and surrounding areas.

We've already been hit with our first skunk crisis. Two of my dogs got sprayed smack in the face when they went out this morning, right in their backyard. I thought we had that handled with blockages preventing them from getting under the house, but no, they have found their way back to their favorite nesting space.

So it's early to my annual spring cleaning this year. It's time to discard piles of debris that have accumulated over the winter, rid the house and yard of hiding places and prickly, seeding weeds.

Chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be harmful to pets. Even organic products like bone meal, fish meal, blood meal and pyrethrins are not meant to be eaten and can make an animal sick but they are much less harmful than the commonly used chemical lawn and garden products or insecticides. Keep all of these things stored safely out of reach and put them back as soon as you've finished using them. So many incidents of accidental poisoning occur when gardening supplies and machine fluids are left out.

If you must use chemical lawn fertilizers and insecticides, keep pets off treated areas for at least 48 hours. Water ground fertilizers and systemic treatments thoroughly, and water heavily again the next day. Don't let your pets eat grass that is treated with chemicals and wash off their paws before they start licking them.

For pets that are chemically sensitive or have allergic responses to grasses and weeds, booties and t-shirts can help protect them from exposure. I keep t-shirts on my big, hairy dogs just to keep the dry grasses and weeds from taking over my house.

Cocoa mulch contains ingredients, specifically the obro mine and caffeine, which can be deadly to pets if ingested. The mulch, sold in garden supply stores, has a chocolate scent that is appetizing to some animals. A little bit can make them sick; nine ounces can be enough to cause death in a 50-pound dog. If you have pets, there are much better choices for mulching your garden.

Rodent poison is another big cause of pet poisoning. Not only are the baits highly toxic, but the killed pests can also poison animals that eat them. As much as I'd like to think my dogs have enough sense not to devour a dead rat, I know better. Trapping is a much safer alternative. I don't like it and find it distasteful, but I'd much rather dispose of a rodent in a trap than find one half-eaten on my property. If you have cats or small dogs, be sure to place traps well out of their reach and block off all possible access. Antifreeze is one of many common household and garden chemicals that pose serious threats to our pets. It contains ethylene glycol that has a sweet, attractive taste to animals but is deadly if consumed in even small quantities; one teaspoon can kill a seven-pound cat. The HSUS recommends pet owners use antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safer for animals if ingested in small amounts. Ethylene glycol can also be found in common household products like snow globes, so be sure to keep these things out the reach of animals.

The HSUS recommends that pet owners use all household products with caution and keep a pet first-aid kit and manual readily available. The HSUS puts out a first-aid book in conjunction with the American Red Cross titled "Pet First Aid: Cats and Dogs." If all of your precautions fail and you believe that your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately. Signs of poisoning include listless-ness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lack of coordination and fever.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Nadia Caillou, an animal care specialist and co-owner of a pet store in Sedona. She is the founder of Golden Bone Rescue and Rehab and has over 30 years experience helping distressed animals and helping pet owners, shelters and pounds overcome problem behavior in animals.

The HSUS recommends pet owners use antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safer for animals if ingested in small amounts.

Copyright 2015 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: March 25, 2015

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