How to keep your pet safe and healthy during Spring

Spring is a warm welcome from the cold wintry days of the last few months, and we’re not the only ones pleased to turn our back on colder days.

Warmer weather and lighter evenings in Spring mean that pets generally spend more time outside, either exploring the garden or on walks. However, with warmer weather comes colourful Spring flowers, the promise of Easter and hay fever. During this time of year, it’s important to keep an eye on pets to ensure they stay safe and prevent any unwanted trips to the vets.

Pets love nothing more than basking in the sun, exploring new smells and sights in the garden or on walks, however with this can come a number of challenges and hazards to look out for. We highlight some of the hazards that pet owners should be aware of during this time of year.

Plants and bulbs

Spring bulbs of tulips and daffodils can be particularly toxic to cats and dogs. All parts of the plant are toxic, but the bulbs contain the most toxins. Pet owners should be extra vigilant and make sure your cat or dog are not digging up bulbs in the garden.

Lilies are highly hazardous to cats, including the petals, leaves, stem and pollen. The more dangerous varieties include: Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter Lilies and Japanese Show. If cats ingest just a small amount of the plant, this could cause kidney failure.

Fertilizers

Warmer weather can mean owners also want to spend more time in the garden. Some pet owners are unaware of the detrimental effect some common garden products can have on dogs and cats. While most fertilizers are not very toxic, resulting in minor gastrointestinal irritation when consumed, and without any treatment some can be fatal.

A few common ones to be aware of are:

  • Blood Meal
  • Rose and plant fertilizers – Pesticides/Insecticides
  • Iron
  • Slug Pellets

As a general rule always read the label of anything that you are adding to your garden as many will state if they are hazardous to pets. There are many pet-friendly alternatives now available, so don’t worry you can still enjoy your garden in full bloom.

Seasonal allergies

Like their owners, pets can also develop seasonal allergies to pollen, grass or even some plants. Dogs are more likely to develop such allergies and cats in only rare instances. Seasonal allergies can cause intense itching of the face, feet, ears, chest and tummy and manifest as part of a clinical problem called atopic dermatitis. To prevent your pet from scratching all season, speak to your vet as they will be able to offer advice on how to lessen the severity and give your pet some itch relief. Some nutraceuticals on the market, such as Nutramega or Vetpro could help with itchy skin during this time of year.

Cleaning products

Some products used to clean the home can be dangerous to pets. Strong acid or alkaline cleaners are a big risk, such as rust removers or toilet bowl cleaners. Most cleaning products in small amounts will only cause an upset stomach, but even if you think your pet has ingested a small amount of any product get in touch with your vet who can advise what to do next.

Be sure to keep cleaning products in a secure or raised cupboard to prevent dogs or cats having access. When using products diluted in water, such as floor cleaners, keep an eye on pets to prevent them from sampling products. Undiluted cleaners, especially strong cleaners, can damage eyes and skin even without ingestion.

Easter treats

With Spring comes Easter and eggs of the chocolate variety, which are very popular at this time of year. Chocolate is toxic for dogs and should not be given to them. Even a small amount could cause serious health problems. Be sure to keep all chocolate treats away from pets and be careful of them picking up scraps off the floor. Keep some of your dog’s favourite treats on hand to stop them from begging and prevent you from being tempted to give them some.

Hot cross buns are also a popular choice around Easter time and raisins are toxic to pets. All grapes, raisins, currants, sultanas and any foods containing them can be harmful to your pet. Keep any of the above out of reach to ensure your dog does not sniff them out.

Fleas and ticks

As the weather warms up this can increase the chances of your pets coming into contact with fleas, ticks or even worms. Infections from parasites can be very uncomfortable for your pet and in some instances could cause serious health problems.

Fleas can also cause irritation for pets, with some dogs and cats even having flea allergies. Many pets can be sensitive to fleas, which can cause allergies and skin diseases if not properly treated. Pets with flea allergies can be allergic to the saliva of the flea and become very itchy after being bitten. Your vet will be able to offer the best flea treatment sufficient for your pet. Be sure to also treat areas of your home, where your pet sleeps or may venture.

Bee and wasp stings

Pets can have a range of reactions to bee and wasp stings. At their least dangerous, stings are merely a painful inconvenience. At their worst, however extreme immune reactions can cause serious swellings – if this is around the head and neck, construction of the airways and restriction of breathing can be a major concern. Dogs and cats are particularly at risk, due to them often having an interest in catching and playing with wasps and bees they may find. Keep an eye on any pets while outside and if you see them investigating any bees or wasps remove them from the situation if you are able to.

Cold water

Despite the weather being slightly milder, water in lakes and streams will still be too cold for your pet. Keep an eye on them during walks and don’t let your dog jump in as the shock of the cold water could cause them to freeze up and struggle to swim or cause them to develop hypothermia.

If you think your pet may have eaten or been affected by any of the above, be sure to contact your vet right away, as they will be able to offer the best advice with regards to your pet’s health.