Long time, no update! I have only myself to blame. Well... and Portland's yearly "February Spring fake-out." While it's still too early for me to start planting tomatoes or corn, this past month was the perfect time to do some much needed weeding and pruning (while the sun made its brief appearance and shooed away the rain for a short while). I love that the first signs of Spring are popping up everywhere! Bulb plants—crocuses, daffodils, and grape hyacinth, just to name a few—are some of my favorite flowers of February and March. While we look forward to bringing lovely clippings of these flowers into our homes—letting them grace our mantles, dining tables, and bedroom credenzas—it's important to remember that Spring carries a few natural hazards (and annoyances) for our beloved pets!
Some of our Northwest's most beloved Spring-blooming bulbs, when ingested by our pets, can cause a multitude of problems. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, tulips and hyacinths can cause skin irritation to animals that chew the flowers and leaves, as well as more serious health issues with ingestion of the bulbs. Additionally, daffodils and crocuses can cause severe abdominal discomfort, nausea, and even vomiting. And, while we've got another month until Easter, it's not uncommon to see lilies already appearing in stores. Ingesting certain types of lilies, including Easter lilies, can be fatal to cats! But keep in mind that even if you aren't bringing these flowers indoors, your furry friends could still be getting into mischief (or doing what animals do naturally) and finding these Spring bulbs on their own! If you have a dog (or cat) that likes to dig, just be certain they're not ingesting any bulbs from the ground. As noted above, bulbs can cause more serious health issues to pets, including unexpected trips to the emergency vet, as plants' toxins are usually concentrated in their bulbs (versus stems, leaves, and flowers). And, speaking of pets that like to dig in the dirt, remember that Springtime means many people are fertilizing their gardens (I know I sure am), in preparation for veggie planting after the last Spring frost. Certain ingredients in various fertilizers—blood meal, organophosphates (OP), pesticides/insecticides, and iron—can be fatal to pets.
While we love bringing the lovely parts of Spring indoors, there are some things we wish would stay outside. ANTS! It's certainly true that "April showers bring May flowers," but those rains also bring outside pests inside. Curious why ants seem to be swarming this time of year? According to Portland Pest Control, "the answer is simply that the rain washes away honeydew produced by aphids, which is a major source of food for these ants. [The ants] are attracted indoors, out of the rain and often find a plentiful food source in kitchens and pantries of homes." So, if you leave pet food bowls on the floor, be sure you're not providing a fresh meal source for invading ants. I've used, and highly recommend, anti-ant pet dishes. A simple search of the term on Amazon.com will bring up over a hundred to choose from. Pick the one that fits your style, so that your pets can enjoy a pest-free meal!
Finally, let's talk about fleas and mosquitos. Yes, yes... I know... this is Portland and it's COLD and WET! Fleas and mosquitos, as we've all learned in school, prefer places that are WARM and wet. Well, guess what? Portland does have mosquitoes and fleas. Irrigation and building are allowing mosquitoes to survive and thrive. Infected mosquitoes carry risk of heartworm for your pets. And, fleas move inside when it's cold and wet outside. Be sure to protect your pet against both! I'm not trying to be a Springtime joy-kill! I just want to make sure you and your pets stay safe. Because even though the February fake-out is over, Spring's only just around the corner! Let's make sure our furry friends make it to that season we're all waiting so desperately for... SUMMER! Be sure to visit The Humane Society's "Plants That May Poison Your Pets" Web page and dowload the PDF of their full list of plants that are poisonous to pets.