We’re all pleased to see the sun coming back for spring after a long, wet winter, but unfortunately, this season brings with it several different dangers for our pets. Many of these can be avoided or prevented with a little thoughtfulness and forward planning, so it’s worth being proactive when we can. Taking a few small steps now can make a big difference in the future!
So, what are these seasonal dangers for our pets – and how can we avoid them?
The swathes of daffodils, crocuses and other spring bulbs that appear at this time of year are wonderful to see, but don’t let your dog take too close an interest. Many of these bulbs are toxic to our pets, so make sure your dog is not digging or chewing at these plants.
Many bulbs are irritating to the mouth and will cause dogs to start drooling after chewing them. If swallowed, most bulbs will cause an upset stomach (vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain) which can be very unpleasant for both you and your dog.
Some bulbs can also cause more serious issues if eaten in large quantities. Daffodils, narcissi, tulips, and hyacinths all contain similar chemicals that can cause heart problems, breathing problems and seizures at high levels.
If your dog is a known chewer, store any bulbs well out of reach, and be sure that they admire the spring flowers from a distance!
Fleas and Ticks
The warmth of spring means that some unwanted beasties are also waking up at this time of year! In particular, the levels of fleas and ticks both rise in the spring.
Fleas can be picked up from almost anywhere – your pet doesn’t need to leave the garden to acquire a few passengers, as other creatures such as cats, foxes, hedgehogs or other wildlife can easily leave some behind.
Once your pet brings fleas into the house, they can be difficult to get rid of. Regular treatments for your pet, diligent spraying of floors and carpets, and washing bedding on a hot cycle all help, but it can take several months to clear your house.
Ticks are commonly picked up on more rural walks, especially in areas where sheep or deer have been grazing recently. However, even city-dwelling dogs can occasionally acquire ticks at the local park, so there’s no reason to be complacent.
Tick bites are unpleasant for dogs – they are often itchy or painful, and can become infected, too. More worryingly, some ticks can carry serious illnesses such as Lyme disease or Babesia, which can be difficult to diagnose but can make dogs very sick.
For both fleas and ticks, prevention is best. For advice on the best ways to prevent your pets from bringing home unwanted visitors, speak to us.
The spring sunshine might not feel all that warm, but it’s enough to heat up our cars and conservatories to a temperature that, sadly, may be dangerous for our pets.
Heatstroke can affect any pets – not just dogs, but cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and even horses. However, certain things may raise our pets’ risk of being affected by heatstroke.
Pets at higher risk of heatstroke include:
- Flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds
- Dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Shih Tzus
- Cats such as Persians and Exotic Shorthairs
- Rabbits such as Netherland Dwarfs and Lionheads
- Overweight pets
- Adult dogs (over 2 years of age)
- Large-breed dogs (weighing over 50kg)
Preventing heatstroke sometimes needs a little forward planning, especially if you are going on a day trip. Some easy steps that you can take include:
- Never leave dogs in the car on a sunny day, or in direct sunlight when you are out of the car.
- On warm days, walk dogs in the morning or evening when it is cooler and shadier.
- On hot days, skip the walk entirely – better to be safe than sorry.
- Make sure fresh water is always available at home and offer your dog regular drinks when you are out of the house.
If you celebrate Easter at home, you will probably indulge in some seasonal foods – whether that’s easter eggs, hot cross buns, or simnel cake! However, many of these foods are not suitable for our pets, and some can even be deadly in large enough amounts.
Most people know that chocolate is toxic to pets, but sadly vets do see an increase in cases of chocolate poisoning around Easter. This is usually from treats that are left out unattended – even if they are wrapped up! – or from easter egg hunts. Be sure to keep chocolate in cupboards or sealed containers, and make sure pets are kept well away from any egg hunts.
Raisins and sultanas are common ingredients in baked Easter treats, but sadly are very poisonous to dogs. Even a handful can cause kidney failure, so there’s no safe amount for them to eat. Be sure to keep hot cross buns, simnel cakes and any other dried-fruit delicacies in cupboards or sealed containers, well away from prying paws.
It’s great to enjoy the arrival of spring with our pets and to spend more time outdoors in the warmer weather. However, be sure to take the precautions needed to keep your pets safe, happy and healthy this spring!