Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Has Sprung!

It's spring in New Orleans and that means the return of warmer weather, as well as lots and lots of rainy days. It also means the return of mosquitoes and other undesirable insect pests, and because of the unseasonably warm 2015 winter, for many it may also mean battling with a worse than usual allergy season.

Now that we've (hopefully) seen the last blast of really cold air, we can all feel more encouraged to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather, revitalize the garden, and get more exercise with our four-legged friends. For those who suffer with seasonal allergies it's not as easy to get motivated to get up and get out, and parenting a pet with allergies presents a whole other set of challenges altogether.

A common springtime question in garden centers is "what plants are safe/harmful around pets?" While there are a number of plants in the harmful category, the answer really has a lot to do with the age, size, and type of pet you have as well as the amount of plant chewed or consumed.

Because of the multitude of indoor and outdoor plants that can potentially pose a hazard to your four-legged family members, we've begun compiling a resource on Pinterest with links from a variety of sources to provide you with the most comprehensive information available.

Tulips, lilies, kalanchoes, azaleas, oleander, foxglove, and sago palms are just a sampling of common plants that can be poisonous to pets. It should also be noted that many products such as fertilizers and herbicides (including those labeled organic) can potentially be harmful to pets that spend a lot of time outdoors. Remember, pets sometimes groom their paws so anything they step on could end up in their mouths.

Safe garden plants for pets include catnip and mint, basil, marigolds, cornflower, strawberries, coreopsis, and lavender. Indoor plants generally considered safe around pets include ferns, spider plants, African violets, and air plants. Please note that while some plants are safe for dogs, such as certain types of lilies, they are NOT safe for cats. If you have both dogs and cats be sure to choose plants that are safe for both.

As mentioned above, warm weather means the return mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Mosquitoes are known for spreading heartworm, while ticks transmit Lyme and other diseases that affect both pets and people. Fleas can transmit tapeworms, harmful bacteria, and even cause anemia. Check pets regularly for fleas and ticks and take pet-friendly preventive measures to control insects in your yard.

Spring is also the time of cleaning and clearing and you want to be sure that you tackle those tasks with your pets in mind. Don't let a mop bucket lead to a pet emergency, and make sure all cleaners are non-toxic and pet-friendly.

Shedding is one of the most challenging issues when living with a pet as hair gets everywhere, including on visiting guests. Lint rollers, brushes, dryer sheets, and squeegees are some of the tools that can help keep pet hair under control. (See below for specific tips.)

Good weather also means more outdoor partying, and spring is the start of festival season in New Orleans as well. Make sure pets are kept away from all party foods, beverages, and waste, and be sure that any visiting house guests are mindful of potential pet hazards as well.

Happy Spring!

For more tips and info see our Pinterest board, Springtime Pet Tips 

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