21 Mar 2017

Spring tips for pet owners

Spring is upon us and it brings opportunities for lovely longer walks and spending more time outdoors. Every season of the year presents potential risks to the dog, and spring is no exception.
Enjoy the warmer weather and all of the joys of spring, but be on the lookout for potential problems and hazards, in order to keep your dog safe.
Easter eggs
Easter time is fast approaching, and for most of us, that means one thing: Chocolate! While you might well be looking forwards to involving your dog in your celebrations and Easter egg hunts, it is vital to remember that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and can lead to severe poisoning and even potentially death. You should never give your dog chocolate or let them pick up scraps of chocolate, for their own good.
Keep some dog-safe treats to hand, to reward your dog with while you are enjoying your chocolate egg.
Ticks and Fleas
The warmer weather means that areas of the country that are prone to having ticks will begin to proliferate with these unpleasant parasitic bugs, which can attach themselves to your dog’s skin in order to feed. Ticks can cause localised infections and irritations, as well as potentially spread Lyme disease, so check your dog over for ticks regularly and earn about how to remove them.
While fleas tend to die off somewhat during the winter months, as the weather gets warmer, they will come back with a vengeance! Hopefully you have been treating your dog for fleas on a monthly basis throughout the winter months, but if your flea treatment regime has lapsed somewhat, it is time to get back into the swing of things now to prevent flea infestation on your dog or in your home.
Seasonal plant toxins
Certain plants, flowers and other flora can prove toxic to your dog if ingested, so if you are planning on doing some spring gardening and planting out some new flowers, check that anything you plan to introduce is safe for your dog.
Poisoning from plants and flowers can prove potentially serious to your dog, and can make them quite ill, as well as in some cases, unfortunately proving fatal.
Some of the most common springtime plants that can be toxic to dogs include:
• Tulips
• Hyacinth
• Daffodils
• Lilies
• Crocus
• Clematis
• Foxglove
While you do not necessarily need to avoid planting these flowers entirely, do bear in mind the potential risks they can pose to your dog, and locate them carefully to avoid ingestion.
Don’t throw sticks for your dog
Playing with your dog may well involve energetic games of catch and retrieve, but choose the toys you use for your dog carefully. Invest in good quality, sturdy, dog-safe toys such as hard rubber balls or other toys that you can throw for your dog, rather than allowing them to pick up sticks when out on their walks.
Throwing sticks for your dog can be dangerous on many levels, from potential injuries to the mouth from splinters, to ingestion of shards of wood that can puncture your dog’s internal organs. Also, sharp stick may potentially harm your dog, not to mention possibly clouting them over the head if your aim is poor!
Be careful of cold water
When the air temperature is warm, it can be tempting to take your dog swimming in the sea, or in a nearby pond or stream. Remember, however, that the temperature of the water will be much lower than the temperature of the air, and below the surface level of any body of water, the temperature is likely to remain very low for some months to come.
Do not encourage your dog to dive into cool water to play; they may find that the temperature is low enough to shock their system and cause them to freeze up, putting them at risk of drowning and in danger of being unable to get back out of the water.
Please also take time to read these tips for cat owners published by Vets Now:
What are the biggest hazards for cats over springtime?
Springtime normally brings an increased number of cases to our out-of-hours clinics. Lighter nights and a rise in pets going out and about mean they are more likely to encounter potential hazards. For example, our emergency vets tend to see more cat fights, dog bites, allergic reactions and cases of heat stroke.
We’ve drawn up a list of some of the main hazards to look out for.
If you’re worried your cat is sick or injured as a result of any of these, please contact your vet as soon as possible, or find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.
1. Plants and flowers
Cats love spending time in the garden. Make sure your garden is safe for your cat and be careful if you need to use any slug and snail pellets, pesticides or other chemicals. Avoid using cocoa shell mulch as well, as it contains the same toxic ingredient as chocolate.
Watch out, too, for poisonous plants. Toxic species common at this time of year include lilies, daffodils and azaleas. If you notice any signs of poisoning such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, appearing ‘drunk’ or even collapsing, contact your vet immediately.
2. Slug and snail pellets (metaldehyde)
The toxic compound in slug and snail pellets is called metaldehyde. Bear in mind that not all products contain this. However, eating small amounts can cause significant poisoning. Signs will be seen within an hour of ingestion and include incoordination, muscle spasms, twitching, tremors and seizures. Your cat will need urgent veterinary treatment if affected.
Image of Easter egg for Vets Now article on springtime dangers to cats
3. Easter eggs
Chocolate poisoning is a big source of pet emergencies so make sure you keep Easter eggs and any other chocolate products out of reach of your car. Be aware which other human foods are dangerous to cats, and make sure any house guests know the rules too.
If you are having a springtime barbeque, make sure your cat is kept at a safe distance. Kebab skewers, alcohol and bones can be particularly dangerous.
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4. Allergies
Just like people, cats and dogs can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses, and many other substances in springtime. Allergies in pets normally appear as itchy skin and ear problems, accompanied by hair loss or inflamed skin. Some pets will even change their behaviour due to irritation. Some will suffer respiratory signs or runny eyes.
5. Grass blades
This is another surprisingly big cause of pet emergencies. Cats who have a penchant for eating grass run the risk of getting the blades stuck in their nose and throat. This can cause breathing problems, sneezing and nasal discharge.
Image of wasp for Vets Now article on springtime dangers to cats
6. Insect stings
Cats often like to chase and play with wasps and bees and can be stung. Most of these cases are not emergencies. With a bee sting, check and remove the sting if it’s still in place, then bathe the area in bicarbonate of soda (one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 300ml warm water). With wasp stings bathe the area with malt vinegar or lemon juice.
If your cat is stung in or near the mouth or neck then you may need to seek veterinary help. Cats, like humans, can be allergic or become allergic to stings. Signs include swellings, distress and breathing difficulties.
Make sure your cat is up-to-date with his vaccinations, flea and tick medications as this is the time of year fleas and ticks start to increase in number.
Suggested Tweet
Check out this handy blog post from @VetsNowUK to learn about the 8 most common dangers for #cats this #spring
7. Neutering
Springtime is when female un-neutered cats will start coming into season, so it’s essential to get them speyed now if you do not want three to four litters of kittens this year.
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8. Adders
Adders are most likely to bite in spring when they’ve just come out of hibernation. This is because they’re not alert enough to scuttle away at speed. Their venom is highly dangerous to cats. If you suspect your cat has been bitten by an adder seek urgent veterinary treatment.
9. Permethrin (insecticides)
Permethrin is an insecticide commonly found in many over-the-counter ‘spot-on’ flea treatments for dogs. It is very toxic to cats and at Vets Now we see cases of permethrin poisoning every month. Most cats are poisoned when their owners mistakenly use a dog product on them.
However, cats can also show mild signs of poisoning after close contact with a recently treated dog. Signs of insecticide poisoning include drooling, tremors, twitching and seizures the onset of those symptoms is usually rapid. You should contact your vet immediately if you think your cat has been poisoned by insecticides. Cats that receive immediate treatment and survive usually suffer no long-term effects.Springspring-time-dog-and-catCat Spring
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