As fresh spring air begins to fill our homes and the grass turns from a life-less shade of brown to a vibrant green, signs of spring are welcome. As the tiny green tulip and daffodil shoots emerge from beneath the last shaded piles of snow, the family dog is ready to explore the backyard that is quickly springing back to life. Little does he know, dangers may be lingering in the yard.
When birds begin to return to the bird feeders for the spring, keep an eye on your dog. Ingestion of large amounts of bird seed is dangerous for dogs. If a dog eats bird seed that has fallen from a feeder and sat on moist soil, the seeds may be fermented. If a dog ingests these seeds, they can experience fungal infections or even bloat, according to the experts at The Dog Owner's Guide by Canis Major Publications.
Adding capsaicin to bird seed will deter your dog, and unwanted squirrels, from eating the bird seed. Mix chili pepper seasoning or ground chili peppers into the seed. The spicy capsaicin from the peppers is undesirable to dogs, and undetectable by birds, as their taste buds differ from those of humans.
Start with a one to ten ratio of chili peppers to seed, and gradually increase the spicy additive as needed to deter the family pet. Take note, the first few times the dog explores the seasoned bird seed, he will be curious of the new smell and taste the fallen seeds. Once he tastes the hot peppers, he will begin avoiding the seeds.
In the Midwest, the winter months bring snow and an unseen accumulation of trash. At the start of spring, the snow melts leaving behind a collection of partially disintegrated fast food containers, plastic sacks and other items left behind by pedestrians and careless motorists. The salty smell of potato chip bags and sticky residue on a disposable beverage container is irresistible to a curious dog.
Talk a walk around your yard, or anywhere on your property that is accessible by the family dog. Wear protective gardening gloves to collect the trash. I have even used the dog's pooper scooper to clean up the potential dangers to my dogs.
In addition to obvious garbage in the yard, look for new hazards. A broken bird bath with sharp edges, a pool of stagnant water in an garbage can lid or an unlocked garden shed door that leads to sharp gardening tools and chemicals pose dangers to the family dog.
Spring cleaning isn't just for the interior of your home. Walk your dog's yard and play areas to ensure he enjoys a safe spring.