Spring is here and we’re certainly spending more time outdoors tending to our yard chores. Accompanying us are our pet dogs and cats who are also enjoying being outside on these beautiful days. But there are some words of caution related to many potentially harmful items for your pets.

According to some area veterinarians, they receive many calls or visits involving pet ingestions of yard and garden products with possibly harmful chemicals or ingredients. Additional yard-related emergencies involve pets that have dug into and ingested the contents of compost piles, or consumed various plants and flowers that can be toxic.

As you are tending to your lawn and garden projects, we wanted to draw attention to some items you are using that may be hazardous to your dog or cat.

While fertilizers are usually fairly safe for pets, those that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron may be especially tasty and dangerous to dogs. Also, ingestion of pesticides and insecticides, especially if they contain organophosphates (often found in systemic rose care products), can be life-threatening, even when ingested in small amounts.

Chocolate mulch is made of discarded hulls or shells of the cocoa bean, which are by-products of chocolate production. The tempting “chocolate-like” smell often attracts dogs and may encourage them to eat the mulch.

Gardeners love their compost, which can be toxic to pets so please keep it fenced off. As the organic matter decomposes, it is common for molds to grow, some of which produce hazardous toxins.

Slug and snail baits contain the active ingredient metaldehyde, which is highly poisonous to dogs and cats.

Wooden play sets produced prior to 2003 may have arsenic treated wood, which is toxic to both people and animals. You will want to keep all swing sets in good shape and painted as needed to avoid splintering. The splinters can be dangerous should your pet try to swallow them or step on them on the ground.

In addition to living on wooden play sets, stinging insects like to make their nests around or in homes. Mosquitoes breed in water, such as ponds or other areas of stagnant or standing water in your yard. With mosquitoes you need to be on the lookout for heartworm and West Nile virus. Ticks typically are found around tree-filled areas, but they can be anywhere. Of course you know ticks can lead to Lyme disease.

While enjoying the beautiful gardens and flowers this spring and summer, have the knowledge to keep your pets safe. If, however, you think a pet may have ingested something harmful, take action immediately.