Spring is here – poisoning risks for pets

Spring is here – poisoning risks for pets

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Springtime brings with it a most wonderful announcement to the “rebirth” of color, sound and sunshine…  As we celebrate the arrival of spring, it is essential to remember that the season also carries a predictable and recurring story at emergency hospitals.  The challenges our pets’ faces during this time of year that are particularly common with the arrival of springtime are poisonings.

The following represent the top springtime preventable exposure risks to our pets:

  • Snail Bait – According to Dr Wendy Brooks, Veterinary Partners, snail bait poisoning are the most common poisoning in dogs that occurs inCalifornia.  At emergency hospitals spring represents the highest occurrence of exposure for pets and specifically in dogs.  Metaldhyde – the active ingredient, in snail bait has no antidote available and aggressive medical treatment (hospitalization, fluids, muscle relaxants and anti-seizure drug) is necessary.  Toxic effects having the medical slang term of “Shake and Bake Syndrome,” due to progressive muscle twitching and seizures leading to extremely elevated body temperature.  Left uncontrolled death is likely to occur.  If not caught early, even with treatment, some animals are not able to recover.
    • Prevention – There are several recommendations for non-toxic “natural” methods for slug and snail control.
    • If you use snail bait the exposed area needs to be restricted for at least two weeks after applications.
  • Plants – The list of toxic and potential toxic plants is quite extensive and dependent upon the part of plant ingested (flower, leaves, stem, seed…) and amount consumed, will determine risk.
    Surprisingly it is more typical for cats to ingest a toxic plant than their canine counterpart.
  • Fertilizers – Most fertilizers are mixed with animal by-products making them tempting for pets to ingest.  Potential toxicity occurs from excessive minerals and/or herbicides, pesticides and fungicides added to mixture.
  • Insecticides – With spring comes the “bloom” of insects and with our efforts to control them, pets are at risk for exposure.  ASPCA Poison Control reports that “15.7% of all calls… are about insecticides, more than half of calls involving cats” from use of mislabeled parasite preventatives, namely flea and tick products labeled for dogs only! 

Please read the label for all products that you are considering using on or near your pets!

We wish all a safe and colorful spring!


  1. Thank you for sending out the reminder about the top springtime preventable exposure risks that our pets face at this time of year. I was surprised that chocolate Easter bunnies weren’t on the list because it was a chocolate Easter bunny that introduced us to your wonderful facility six years ago. We were visiting grandchildren and were aware of the dangers of chocolate and for that reason had carefully put it all away out of reach – but our little four pound toy poodle found one that we had missed! Thank you again for your marvellous care.

    • Lilian,

      Your absolutely correct in stating concern for chocolate… It is the most common toxin exposure seen on Easter and something that is treating year around in emergency veterinary hospitals. With the article that we posted, we were looking to address (with a springtime theme) environment risk that while commonly treated in emergency settings are ones that come as a surprise to pet owners. For a list of the most common toxins see