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Springtime Hazards to Watch Out for!

Spring is on the way, which is great for us, but watch out for some unexpected seasonal hazards for your pets.  

If you want to avoid any stress-inducing and potentially expensive pet emergencies this spring, it’s important to look at some springtime hazards that vets would like pet owners to be aware of.  


Easter leftovers that should carry a pet health warning  


  • Easter eggs: chocolate has a stimulant called theobromine that is toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals!  

  • Hot cross buns: raisins, currents, and sultanas, along with grapes—are all poisonous for dogs!  

  • Lilies: that beautiful Easter floral favourite is an absolute no-no for cats! A cat can suffer fatal kidney failure just from nibbling a leaf, licking pollen off their coat, or even drinking water from a vase with cut lilies!  


Deadly flowers and plants  

While spring flowers are welcome after a long, cold winter, if you have pets, it pays to know that some are extremely toxic.  

The bulbs of a spring flower favourite, the daffodil, are particularly poisonous. If eaten, it can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea and, in the worst cases, be fatal!  

Tulips and hyacinths aren’t quite as toxic, but the bulbs are dangerous if eaten in large quantities.  

Colourful rhododendrons and azaleas may brighten up a flowerbed, but they have a highly toxic substance called grayanotoxin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.  

Even the humble buttercup peeping up on your lawn is mildly poisonous and can cause drooling, vomiting, and seizures.  


Garden hazards for your pets  

You should always prioritise your pets when managing your garden, hanging baskets, and potted plants. Fertilisers, insecticides, herbicides, and slug and snail pellets are best avoided. Instead, why not create a wildlife garden to encourage bees and natural pest predators such as hedgehogs, frogs, and toads?  


Also avoid cocoa mulch as a soil dressing as, just like chocolate, it has theobromine. If your dog eats cocoa mulch, you will need to seek immediate veterinary help.  

If you have a cat that enjoys eating grass, then avoid coarse or ornamental grasses. Felines can be at risk of getting grass blades stuck in their nose and throat, which can cause breathing problems, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Instead, invest in cat-friendly grass seed pouches, grow your own kits, or buy ready-grown grass.  


Which insects are dangerous for your pets?  

Slugs and snails may seem harmless (apart from when they’re munching on your marigolds), but they can carry lungworm, a potentially fatal disease in dogs. Dogs can become infected if they eat slugs and snails, maybe from munching on grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or picking up toys left outside. Prevention is always better than cure, and a regular vaccination and parasite routine, as suggested by your vet, should provide all the protection against worms, ticks, fleas, and other nasties.  


Ticks are tiny, blood-sucking parasites that happily hitch a ride on pet dogs, cats, and us humans to have a snack before dropping off a few days later. When the tick is feeding, it’s irritating for the pet, but ticks can also cause unpleasant skin reactions and lumps that can become sore and infected.  

More worryingly, ticks can carry dangerous infections such as Lyme disease, which requires immediate veterinary treatment and can also infect humans. Ticks are mostly found on your pet’s head and neck, around their ears, in whiskers, or on their legs after walks in long grass, particularly near livestock. Ticks can be removed using a special tick removal device, which is readily available at your local pet shop or vet. Simply slide it under the tick and turn it anticlockwise. Do not pull! Be careful to remove the whole tick. If you’re unsure about removing a tick correctly, your vet will be happy to do it for you.  


Curious pets who decide to investigate a wasp or bee too closely may end up getting stung. Insect stings most commonly occur on the forelimbs or around the face, causing pain and swelling. Insect stings are not usually serious, unless an animal develops an obstruction to its breathing due to a sting within the back of the mouth or if they have an allergic reaction. If this is the case, your pet will need emergency treatment from your vet.  


The UK has only one venomous snake, the Adder, which will venture out of hibernation during the sunny days of spring, and it’s the time of year they are most likely to bite. As their venom is highly dangerous to dogs and cats, be on your guard, particularly in rough, open countryside. If your pet is bitten, it can cause severe pain, swelling around two small puncture wounds, as well as breathing problems, and you’ll need to see a vet at once.  


When it comes to your fantastic furry friends, it is always best to be prepared and know some basic pet first aid. Regular checks will help you spot if something’s wrong, but would you know what to do in an emergency?  

Next week’s blog will be on first aid for pets, but do not wait to read it. If you do have any pressing questions or worries, then please feel free to contact one of our team.    


Until then, stay safe. 

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