By Nicole Abrego

Springtime is here! As we head to clear skies and warmer weather in gorgeous Encinitas, it’s important to keep in mind some of the hazards that our pets can encounter as they venture into the outdoors.

Here are some of the top Spring environmental hazards for your pets to avoid.


The Encinitas area has experienced an abundance of rain at the start of 2019. Although rain is always appreciated, heavy rainfall tends to lead to large growths of foxtails. The foxtail plant is a grass-like weed that is common in the Southern California region. During the late spring, the soft, green grass-like foxtail plant will dry and turn into a barb-like flower cluster that resembles the tail of a fox.

Unfortunately, these plants can pose a real danger for your pet. Foxtails can easily slip into your pet’s ears, nose, mouth, or between their toes. This can cause swelling and irritation for your pet and foxtails should be removed immediately either by yourself or veterinarian. Without immediate removal, foxtails can burrow themselves into your pet’s skin and enter their body, potentially migrating to their lungs or other internal organs which could lead to extensive surgery.

Your pet can avoid foxtails by keeping out of long grass and keeping your dog on a short leash while walking or hiking. Examine your pet’s fur, ears, feet, armpits, and groin daily after they have spent time outside (this goes for cats as well) to ensure that no loose foxtails have attached themselves to your pet.


As the weather warms up, a number of venomous rattlesnakes native to the Southern California region are frequently spotted on local trails. A rattlesnake bite can cause pain and serious harm to our pets and ourselves and could be fatal if not immediately treated.

Dogs are naturally curious so they can accidentally get too close to a deadly rattlesnake during an encounter. A dog suffering from a rattlesnake bite may display symptoms of swelling, drooling, painful vocalization, and vomiting and should be taken to your local veterinarian immediately to be treated

When visiting areas known as a native rattlesnake habitat, keep dogs on a short leash and by your side to prevent them from running off on their own. Stay aware of your surroundings and watch your step to avoid an accidental run in with a rattlesnake.

Ticks, Fleas and Mosquitoes:

Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, oh my! These pests are not only an annoyance for your pet and home, they carry diseases that can cause a variety of health problems.

Fleas can jump onto your pet year-round and live on your pet for life. The female flea will lay 30 - 50 eggs a day and these eggs can fall off your pet onto your carpet and furniture throughout your home. These eggs can stay dormant for up to a year, waiting for the prime time to hatch. Fleas can cause skin irritation and infection and can potentially be host to tapeworms.

Ticks are hosts to many tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and should be removed immediately to prevent the transmission of disease.

Mosquitoes are carriers of heartworms and could lead to potentially fatal heartworm disease.

Luckily, you can keep your pet protected year-round with external parasite prevention products such as Bravecto and Sentinel. Bravecto is available for both cats and dogs and will protect against fleas and ticks for up to 3 months. Sentinel is available for dogs and protects against fleas, heartworms and other external parasites. These products are highly-recommended by The Drake Center and are a part of our preventative care program to keep your pet protected all year long.

Puddles and Standing Water:

Springtime does bring the occasional rain shower, however letting your pet drink from standing water puddles and ponds can expose them to a potentially fatal disease. Leptospirosis, also known as Lepto, is a bacterial disease that can affect companion animals, livestock, and wildlife. This disease is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transferred to humans from animals. Lepto is usually transmitted through standing water or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Infected dogs may experience fever, lethargy, and vomiting. If left untreated, Lepto will affect the dog’s liver and kidney function and can become fatal.

Here at The Drake Center, we offer the Leptospirosis Vaccine to help keep your dog immune to this disease and prevent the spread of bacteria. Prevention is the best defense for protecting your dog (and yourself!) from Leptospirosis.

Toxic Seasonal Plants:

Springtime can bring out the gardener in us. Unfortunately, not only can pesticides such as insecticides and rat/mice poisons used to keep pests out of your garden be harmful to pets, but certain plants can be toxic to your pet as well.

Lilies are known to be toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure. Daffodils can be toxic to both dogs and cats and can cause vomiting, salivation, diarrhea, an irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure. Sago palms, tulips, and azaleas are all plants that can pose a health risk for your pets.

When selecting plants for your home and garden, be sure to avoid plants that can be a hazard for your pet’s health so your pet will be able to enjoy the outdoors without worry.

If your pet has encountered any of these springtime hazards, contact us or schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.

The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.