'tis the season, all year round!

Seasons come and seasons go, and so do potential foreign body and poisoning perils for your pet. As the saying goes, fur-warned is fur-armed (or something along those lines!) so don't get left out in the cold. Stay hot on their trail to keep your pets clear of these seasonal pet health hazards.

spring traps

After the long dark months of winter, what could be nicer than getting outside to soak up the spring sunshine with your four-legged best friend beside you? Just remember, though, that with the better weather come fresh hazards for your pets.

flower (and plant) power

You might be planning to grow a garden’s worth of gorgeous flowers and vibrant veggies, but many of our favorite plants are not as innocent as they look. If sniffing turns to snacking, your dog could end up in the vet hospital. While some outdoor plants cause only mild signs of gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, others have the paw-tential to be very dangerous, possibly leading to heart arrhythmias and even death.

Plan your garden carefully, avoiding the following plant pet perils:

  • amaryllis
  • azaleas
  • clematis
  • dahlias
  • daffodils (narcissus)
  • deadly nightshade
  • foxgloves
  • gladiolas
  • hyacinths
  • hydrangeas
  • lilies
  • morning glories
  • rhododendrons
  • tomato plants

mulches + fertilizers

These may help your garden grow, but choosing the wrong fertilizers could leave your pet groaning. Many of these products are attractive to eat, especially for dogs, and can cause either mycotoxicosis (a type of fungal poisoning) or block the bowel if too much is eaten. Cocoa mulch in particular is dangerous because it has a sweet smell – dogs wolfing it down think they are getting an illicit chocolate treat, but could end up with a terrible tummyache. Keep compost out of paw’s reach, and choose mulches that are safe for pets.

pest control

While you don't want slugs and snails to munch their way through those carefully nurtured seedlings, neither do you want your pet shaking and having seizures. Use the utmost care when selecting pest control products and don’t be tempted to use anything that is not clearly marked as "pet-safe." Where possible, use the natural alternative, such as nematode worms, or select plants that are less liable to slug damage.

summer (unpleasant) surprises

In the summer months, Petplan noticed a statistic to send a chill down pet parents’ spines – from May through August, poisoning claims spike 38%. Of this, a whopping 80% increase in onion toxicity is cooked up by that summer pastime of barbecuing.

Another seasonal peak is caused by that other dining favorite, the corncob. Figures show that pets are more likely to graze on maize in the summer than at any other time, which means a huge rise in the number of corn-related foreign bodies. While the corn itself isn’t harmful to dogs (just avoid slathering it with butter and salt before sharing with Fido!), the cob can easily get stuck in your hungry dog’s stomach.

Nothing ruins a backyard bash faster than an unexpected trip to the emergency vet, so take these additional summer pet safety tips to heart:

bbq bits

It can't be said too many times – no matter how much your Labrador gazes longingly at the grill, onions, avocadoes and skewers (which some eager pets are not adverse to eating!) are strictly off-limits.

sand + stones

What is on the beach should stay on the beach … and not be transported home in your dog's belly. That includes sand and stones! Believe it or not, some dogs love to eat sand, which can end up impacted in their intestines with serious consequences, including constipation, lack of appetite and repeated vomiting. Discourage sand-eating by distracting your pet with his favorite toy.


Playing fetch in the surf could detour your day at the beach to the vet hospital if your pet swallows too much salt water. It can lead to salt toxicity, or hypernatremia, which can cause vomiting, lethargy, incoordination and even seizures. Make sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your panting pooch and encourage her to slake her thirst safely.

fall fears

Fall may be a time of mellow fruitfulness, but don't let the golden times cause problems for your furry friend. Fallen orchard fruits and nuts can become choking hazards or foreign body ingestions. Be vigilant and sweep up windfall fruits before your dog woofs them up instead.

Additional items to watch for as the temperatures turn cooler:

acorns and nuts

These are the perfect size to cause an intestinal obstruction so always clear the ground before you dog goes out to play.


When tidying the garden keep the compost heap out of bounds to your four-legged friends. Decaying plant material may contain mycotoxins, which could make your dog feel very pawly.


Cats and dogs are attracted to the sweetness of antifreeze, so be vigilant when neighbors prepare their cars for cold weather.

read more about these fur-raising fall festivities

winter woes

As days grow shorter and colder, pets prefer to spend more time snuggled up indoors – making winter the time to be paw-ticularly vigilant about health hazards in your home. In addition to your year-round pet proofing throughout the house, also keep a close eye on seasonal décor and wintry weather necessities.

Follow these winter pet safety tips to ensure your season stays merry and bright for the whole family:

chemical de-icer

You might have your pet’s safety in mind when spreading de-icer on your back steps, but the caustic chemicals that melt the ice also pose a peril to pets. Keep baby wipes by the back door to wipe your furry friend’s paws when he comes inside to avoid damage to paws and side effects of licking.

mistletoe and holly

Deck the halls with boughs indeed, but be careful with festive greenery, and keep it well out of reach. Sadly, these are no festive friend to your pet and can lead to gastrointestinal upset if eaten.


These common stocking-stuffers help keep new toys ticking – but keep them away from your pet’s prying jaws. If swallowed, the corrosive chemicals can leak in the bowel and cause serious (and painful) damage to your pet.

christmas tree

Baubles and decorations pose a choking and foreign body risk for pets. Make sure the decorations are firmly attached to the tree, to make accidental ingestion less likely.

fruit cake

If your family favors this traditional holiday favorite, keep it locked tightly in the cupboard and away from prying paws. The dried fruit in the Christmas cake – paw-ticularly the raisins – can cause kidney failure and be potentially fatal to your pet. All the more for you then!