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Spring safety for your cats and dogs

With warmer spring weather just around the corner we are all looking forward to spending more time outdoors with our pets, but there are some seasonal perils that you should be aware of so that you and your furry friends don’t end up at the vets.
From dangerous plants such as daffodils and bluebells to sunny-day picnics and barbecues, there are lots of hazards that you should be aware of to ensure your pet’s safety.
In fact, one of the UK’s leading out-of-hours pet emergency services expects to see a 33% surge in calls as worried pet owners battle with the unexpected dangers of spring.

Chocolate
Be mindful of chocolate, especially around Easter, as it is highly toxic to dogs and even a small amount can prove fatal. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs.

Raisins
Most of us will enjoy a hot cross bun or two but it is important to remember that, just like grapes, raisins and sultanas can cause kidney failure in dogs.

Spring flowers
Cats and dogs love spending time in the garden so it is good to be aware of any poisonous plants that may harm your pet. Toxic species common at this time of year include lilies, bluebells, crocuses, tulips, azaleas and daffodils. These flowers can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy. In severe cases this may result in dehydration, tremors, and convulsions.

Slug and snail pellets
Make sure your garden is safe for your pet and be careful if you need to use any slug and snail pellets, pesticides, or other chemicals as many are highly toxic.

Ivy
Dogs who eat ivy commonly develop drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea. In the most severe cases you may also see blood in the vomit or faeces. Contact with ivy can cause skin reactions, conjunctivitis, itchiness, and skin rashes.

Adder bites
The common European Adder is the only venomous snake native to the UK. Generally, they only bite when provoked but bites are most frequent in the spring when adders are still sluggish after coming out of their winter hibernation.

The swelling from an Adder bite can be severe. Other signs include bruising, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, restlessness, and lethargy. Swelling around the head and neck may cause breathing problems.

Eventually, pets may collapse, have blood clotting problems, tremors, or convulsions. Seek veterinary attention quickly if you suspect your dog or cat has been bitten by an Adder.

Barbecues
If you are having a springtime barbecue, make sure your cat or dog is kept at a safe distance. Kebab skewers, alcohol, and bones can be particularly dangerous.

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 irritations, accompanied by hair loss or inflamed skin. Some allergies can cause respiratory issues such as poor breathing or weeping eyes, which can make your pet feel quite lethargic and unwell.

Insect stings
Cats and dogs often like to chase and play with wasps and bees so they run the risk of being stung. If your pet has been stung, check the area and remove the sting carefully if it is still in place. If you believe it is a bee sting, bathe the area in bicarbonate of soda solution (one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 300ml warm water). For a wasp sting, bathe the area with malt vinegar or lemon juice.
If your pet is stung in or near the mouth or neck, then you may need to seek veterinary help. Pets, like humans, can be allergic or become allergic to stings. Signs of an allergic reaction include swelling, distress and breathing difficulties.
It is always a good idea to have your phone close to hand and the contact details for your local vet, including your nearest out of hours emergency vets.
If you are unable to get to a vet, you can contact the Animal Poison Line. More information can be found at www.animalpoisonline.co.uk

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