The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reminds pet owners the coming of spring brings with it certain risks to your pet’s health. Below, the AVMA’s top six Easter and springtime warnings and tips for owners of animal companions:

Chocolate bunnies and Easter baskets.  Chocolates are poisonous to dogs and cats, but dogs will eat them up if they can get at them. If the Easter bunny is hiding a basket of candies for your children, make sure it’s in a place where your dog can’t find it first. Also remember that live chicks in an Easter basket grow up quickly into live chickens, and Easter chicks and ducks have been reported to cause cases of salmonella in children.

Lilies.  Lilies are a flower common in the spring, and they are very, very toxic to cats. But cats will often chew them, and even small amounts can lead to kidney failure and death. Cat owners should pass on this spring and Easter tradition.

Fleas and ticks.  They can be tiny, little more than a pinhead in some instances, but they grow and spread quickly once they find a host. The preventative treatments that you may have discontinued in the winter should start early in the spring to keep your pet’s coat, and your home, free of pests.  Also, remember to renew your heartworm perscription for your dog.

Lawn fertilizers.  Lawn fertilizers are very toxic to pets. After applying fertilizers to your lawn, follow manufacturer instructions on how long you should wait before allowing your pet on the lawn.

Coco bean mulch.  It’s becoming common to mulch a garden with the fragrant spent shells of coco beans. But just like chocolate, dogs like to eat them and they are toxic.

Paint and paint thinners.  Paint thinners, mineral spirits and other solvents can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or even if they come in contact with your pet’s skin. Latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach upset, but some specialty paints may contain heavy metals or volatile substances that could be harmful if inhaled or ingested.

For more information, visit www.avma.org. For a two minute video about canine companion park health and safety from the AMVA’s Dr. Ron DeHaven, visit www.avmatv.org.