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Spring has officially sprung!

Spring has officially sprung! After the long winter, many pet parents are emerging from their winter hibernation and taking their pets outdoors for exercise and play. Spring also means doing some serious cleaning around the home, which can bring extra hazards for pets if care is not taken to protect them.

During the winter months, pet hair and allergens can pile up in pets’ crates and carriers. Spring is a great time to spruce up these spaces. It is recommended that pet parents clean their pet’s crate using warm water with dishwashing soap and/or a mild disinfectant once a week. If bleach is used, no more than 1 oz. of bleach per quart of water is needed. Ensure that all of the disinfectant is rinsed well and the crate aired out so that any remaining fumes don’t linger.

After cleaning your pet’s crate, why would you want to put a dirty bed back in? Choosing a pet bed that has a removable cover makes cleaning much easier. Pet bedding can usually be washed on gentle cycle with a small amount of unscented laundry detergent, and either dried on the lowest dryer setting or hung out to air dry. If the bedding cannot be put into a washer, a good airing-out on a sunny, breezy day will help to freshen it up.

Cleaning products that contain phenols (found in many products that include the world “sol”), phthalates, formaldehyde, isopropyl alcohol, bleach, and perchloroethylene (also known as dry cleaning fluid) should be avoided. Bleach in particular can cause breathing problems and skin burns in people and pets, and when it comes into contact with ammonia (such as that found in cat urine), toxic and potentially explosive vapors are produced! If this happens, immediately clear the area of people and pets of all kinds, and call 911.

Yard work may also cause a problem for your pets’ health if they are around such objects as nails, staples, insulation, blades, and power tools. Fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides might help a yard look pretty, but can be fatal if ingested. Flowers such as lilies, rhododendron, and azaleas are also toxic if ingested. The best way to keep your pets safe may be to put up a fence to keep them away from outdoor dangers, and make sure to put away tools, fertilizers, etc., when you are done with them.

Fortunately, there are companies out there that make pet-friendly cleaning alternatives. Also, there are many online resources for pet-safe homemade cleaning solutions, fertilizers, and insecticides. Keep in mind, however, that there are no guarantees that these products won’t cause any harm. The key to using any product safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage. Pets who have ingested or been exposed to dangerous chemicals can show symptoms of sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, seizures, lethargy and in some cases, death. As always, if there are any concerns, consult a veterinarian or call a pet poison hotline.

Pet Poison Helpline