I'm a Vet Tech, and These Are the 5 Biggest Mistakes Pet Parents Make in Spring

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And everything you can do to avoid them.

As a veterinary technician, I worked in several veterinary practices for over 20 years, including primary care, emergency, and specialty medicine. I've seen many pets come in after an accident, injury, or illness due to a springtime hazard. It's a hectic time of year for pet parents, so it can be easy to forget some basic ways to safeguard pets.

Here are five mistakes pet parents make during spring and my expert tips on how to avoid them.

01of 05

Skipping Parasite Prevention

owner applying topical flea and tick ointment to a dog

Parasite prevention can protect pets against heartwormsfleasticks, and intestinal worms. The Companion Animal Parasite Council and most veterinarians recommend parasite prevention for pets all year long, but some pet parents choose to skip these products when it's cold out. It's a pain point for vets and their staff—while we understand the cost and hassle of preventive products, we also know that it's more costly and frustrating to treat parasitic infections and infestations.

As spring emerges, there's a dramatic increase in the number of parasites in your pet's environment, so it's important to start using parasite prevention to protect your pet. Even indoor cats are at risk for fleas and other parasites. At the vet clinic, we see many pets with parasite infestations that could have been prevented, especially in spring and summer. Ask your veterinarian which products are best for your pet and use them as directed.

02of 05

Bringing Toxic Flowers Into the Home

Calico cat sniffs bouquet of flowers

Many of the beautiful spring plants and flowers are actually poisonous for pets. Before bringing home that bouquet or flowering plant, check to make sure it's not toxic to your dog or cat. Cats are especially curious about flowers and tend to nibble on them. Harmful plants may irritate the mouth and cause vomiting, organ failure, or neurological dysfunction. Contact a veterinarian or animal poison control if you think your pet has come into contact with a dangerous flower or plant.

03of 05

Keeping Dangerous Foods Within Reach

Little mongrel dog with chocolate

Springtime means Easter and Passover celebrations for many people, and foods like chocolate, brisket, and ham abound. Opportunistic pets may rifle through Easter baskets or linger under the table for scraps, potentially leading to illness. Chocolate is popular this time of year but toxic to dogs and cats. Rich human foods can cause gastrointestinal upset in cats and dogs and may lead to complications like pancreatitis in dogs. And even if the food doesn't directly harm your pet, it can lead to obesity.

When I worked in emergency, we often got calls around Easter after well-meaning pet parents offered their dogs ham hocks and other cooked animal bones. Unfortunately, many of them wake the next day to a very sick dog, and some end up at the emergency clinic.

Keep all human foods out of reach, and remind guests and children not to offer food to pets. Consider a pet-safe Easter basket or some catnip and tuna kitty treats to make your pet feel included in the festivities.

04of 05

Not Preparing for Allergy Season

cat scratching at herself

Just like humans, many pets suffer from allergies in the spring. But while humans often experience stuffy noses, pets experience skin irritation and itching. If you know your cat or dog has seasonal allergies, you may be able to keep them from getting out of control. In addition to using parasite preventatives, schedule a veterinary visit to discuss an allergy management plan. Your vet may prescribe allergy medication, shots, or offer tips for minimizing allergy symptoms.

05of 05

Forgetting to Make a Vet Appointment

Cat and Dog at the Vet

Veterinary offices tend to stay extra busy during spring. In addition to seeing sick animals, many pets come in for annual checkups and vaccines before their humans go on spring break. Pet boarding facilities require updated vaccines, and some pet parents forget until the last minute. It may be difficult for your vet's office to squeeze you in in time for your trip, so plan accordingly. After you make your spring vacation plans, begin making arrangements for your pet. Your vet and your pet will thank you!

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