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AVMA's SPRINGTIME TIPS FOR PET OWNERS

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reminds pet owners the coming of spring brings with it certain risks to your pet's health. Take a few moments to review AVMA's top spring hints for pet owners:


*Lilies.
Lilies are a flower common in the spring, and they are very, very toxic to cats. But cats will often chew them, and even small amounts can lead to kidney failure and death. Cat owners may want to pass on this spring and Easter tradition.

*Fleas and ticks.
They can be tiny, little more than a pinhead in some instances, but they grow and spread quickly once they find a host. The preventative treatments that you may have discontinued in the winter should start early in the spring to keep your pet's coat, and your home, free of pests.

*Lawn fertilizers.
Lawn fertilizers are very toxic to pets. Store fertilizers in a place far from where your dog or cat -- and children -- can get at them. After applying fertilizers to your lawn, follow manufacturer instructions on how long you should wait before allowing your pet on the lawn. If you see a sign posted on a lawn that tells you to keep your pets off, abide by it.

*Pesticides and herbicides.
It's probably not surprising that these chemicals can be toxic to your pets, but, even when they're not lethal, there are some long-term health concerns. Studies indicate the use of pesticides and herbicides may be tied to increased rates of specific forms of cancer in dogs. If your pet is exposed, wash them with soap and water immediately and call your veterinarian.

*Cocoa bean mulch.
It's becoming common to mulch a garden with the fragrant spent shells of cocoa beans. But just like chocolate, dogs like to eat them and they are toxic.

*Rhubarb leaves.
Rhubarb makes a fine pie and it's a staple in many vegetable gardens, but the leaves are poisonous and can cause kidney failure.

*Rat and mouse poisons.
Controlling vermin becomes an issue again in the spring. Be aware that the same properties of common rat and mouse poisons that make them irresistible to pests will also attract your pet. If consumed, these can be fatal to your animal.

*Cleaning products.
Spring cleaning is an annual tradition in many households, but make sure the cleaning products don't hurt your animals. If the label states "keep pets and children away from area until dry," follow those instructions carefully, and store all chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

*Paint and paint thinners.
If you're putting a fresh coat of paint on the house, keep the pets away. Paint thinners, mineral spirits and other solvents can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or even if they come in contact with your pet's skin. Latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach upset, but some specialty paints may contain heavy metals or volatile substances that could be harmful if inhaled or ingested.

*Preventative medications
Consult with your veterinarian about seasonal medications to keep your pet healthy. For example, in many parts of the country heartworm medications for dogs are often discontinued in the winter. Springtime is the season to restart this medication to keep your dog free of this parasite. But keep in mind that manufacturers' instructions warn that heartworm medications should not be given without first visiting your veterinarian to ensure that your pet has not developed the heartworm parasite. A simple blood test will give you that peace of mind.


For more information, visit www.avma.org

For a full-length video on common household poisons and hazards, visit www.avmatv.org

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