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As winter eases its grip, many households turn to a time-honored tradition that arrives with mild temperatures and open windows: spring cleaning. It’s a time to freshen up homes and yards but requires a little care for homeowners with pets.

Consider what hazardous materials you might be using and keep the environment safe for your dog or cat.

  • Separate pets from cleaning. The easiest solution is to keep pets out of the rooms you’re cleaning. That includes leaving time for the room to air out and for all the surfaces to dry completely.
  • The same goes for painting. It probably goes without saying that painting and pets don’t mix. If you’re taking the opportunity to put a fresh coat of paint in a special room, keep pets well away from the pain and the fumes until the job is done and the room is well ventilated.
  • Consider the products you use. Strongly acidic or alkaline cleaners, including those that remove rust, scour toilets and clear drains are particularly dangerous. More routine supplies such as glass cleaners, spot removers and surface cleaners can cause diarrhea or vomiting in your pet if ingested.   Avoid all cleaners with phenols, phthalates, formaldehyde, bleach, isopropyl alcohol or perchloroethylene when cleaning around animals.  If they must be used, keep animals away from the general area for a minimum of 24 hours.
  • The same goes for outdoor supplies. What fertilizers, mulch, pest repellents or weed treatments do you use around your yard? Keep pets off freshly treated lawns and follow package usage and storage instructions for yard chemicals. Always supervise your dog or cat while you are gardening. Some fertilizers and insect repellents can cause illness if ingested.  Cocoa mulch can tempt dogs the same as chocolate does with the same potential for illness.
  • Check the yard. Muddy puddles are collecting points for bacteria, which won’t be healthy for your dog or cat to lap up. Check fencing for holes or loose spots. Make sure screens fit snuggly into window frames. Cats in particular can be vulnerable to tumbling from high windows with poorly fitted screens.
  • Pets groom themselves with their mouths. Cleaning products, paints, fertilizers, or other materials may leave residual chemicals your pet can lick off its own fur. Be sure to store and use such materials carefully.
  • Watch what you plant. Avoid some plants and flowers unless you can keep pets away. Toxic varieties include azaleas, clematis, daylilies, Easter lilies, ferns, hyacinth, irises, morning glory, rhododendron, and tulips.

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