While we all look forward to the beautiful Spring weather around the corner, it must be said that the springtime carries with it some additional risks while walking dogs. With melting snow and greener grass (and pups looking forward to kicking off those water-balloon-like snow shoes) comes the risk of exposure to pesticides and other toxins that your dog can pick up while out on their walk. Here are some tips from our walker Marianne on keeping your pup safe from pesticides and other poison hazards while out on their walk!
What to Look Out For
- Pesticides can be found on many residential lawns and gardens. These can harm dogs if they’re exposed to these chemicals repeatedly over a long period and can be tracked into your home by way of your dog’s paws and fur. Thankfully, many companies have now developed alternatives to pesticides that are safe for pets, but if you don’t know how a lawn has been treated, it’s best to stay on the safe side and stay away.
- Rat poison (rodenticides) is just as toxic to dogs as they are to the creatures they’re designed to exterminate. Many are also baited with delicious-smelling ingredients that can tempt dogs to ingest them.
- Compost contaminated with meat or dairy products can develop a mold called penicillium crustosum, which is toxic to both dogs and humans.
- Some wild mushrooms are safe for dogs to eat. Still, many are highly poisonous, and not even mycologists can always tell the difference at a glance.
- Cocoa products are known to be toxic to dogs. However, you may not know that some mulches are made from cocoa beans! Even so, cocoa-free mulches can also be a choking hazard.
- Many common houseplants are toxic to dogs, from aloe to tomato vines to lilies. The ASPCA has a database of toxic and non-toxic plants for household pets, but they caution that “the consumption of any plant material may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats.”
Protecting Your Pooch
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. Steer clear of lawns, gardens, and other areas potentially treated with pesticides when walking your dog. Apartment complexes will often mark these areas with signs warning dogs away from treated grass—it’s not just for landscaping! After a walk, wipe down your dog’s paws and fur with pet-friendly wet-wipes as a precaution against tracking pesticides into your home.
Keep an eye out for items on the sidewalk, too—you wouldn’t believe the things people drop! If your dog is prone to eating debris, keep them on a short leash. Dog poop can also contain the parasite Giardia, so make sure to pick up after your pet to help prevent the spread of bacteria.
While it’s imperative to protect your dog from outside toxins, knowing how to prevent your dog from catching coronavirus can help you and your pet stay safe. For more information, check out our interview with veterinarian Dr. Natalie Marks.
Symptoms of Poisoning
Poisoning can cause a wide range of symptoms. Vomiting and gastrointestinal irritation are the most common. Your dog may also have a fever or an elevated pulse. They may be lethargic, restless, or walk drunkenly. Basically, look for any sign your dog is feeling unwell. Some rodenticides contain indicator dyes, which will leave brightly-colored stains on your dog’s mouth, poop, or vomit.
What to Do If Your Dog Is Poisoned
If you suspect your dog has eaten something poisonous, immediately call your vet or a pet poison hotline. A few minutes could make all the difference. You may be told to give your dog hydrogen peroxide, which induces vomiting, or activated charcoal, which absorbs toxins. However, every case is different. Make sure to consult a professional prior to giving your dog anything. If your dog has severe symptoms, such as seizures, unconsciousness, or trouble breathing, take them straight to the nearest emergency vet. Call ahead so that they can prepare for you.
With a little precaution—and a plan in place, just in case—keeping your dog safe from toxins can be a simple process. Stay attentive to your pup while they’re outside, make sure they avoid snacking off the ground, and clean up after them during and after their walk. With those easy steps in mind, your furry friend will thank you for looking out for them!
Thank you Marianne for sharing that excellent information on how to identify and avoid pesticides and other toxins! Windy City Paws is a Fear Free Chicago dog walker and petsitter committed to providing helpful information to Chicago dog owners through its blog.