close up of puppy sniffing flower

Spring tips for cats and dogs

As the first signs of spring are starting to appear, we've put together some tips and advice to ensure that you and your pets can make the most of spring.

While we may appreciate a season associated with beautiful flowers, sweet treats and seeing family, Easter and springtime can have hidden dangers for our cats and dogs. Making sure you are aware of any risks to your pets can help the whole family enjoy spring safely, leaving you free to enjoy yourself!

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Chocolate poisoning

Chocolate is plentiful around Easter, as we all know. This may be great for us, but can be a disaster for our pets. Chocolate is toxic to all our common household pets, but toxicity is most commonly reported in dogs as they generally have the most access to our human foods, and are often not fussy! 

Dog sleeping on sofa

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are an Easter staple, but did you know the raisins in them can be deadly to dogs? Grapes, and all their dried forms can cause kidney failure in dogs. To prevent any problems, make sure your dog does not have access to grapes or raisins. If you think your dog may have eaten either, contact your local vet.

spaniel dog lying on floor

Pet poisons

It is easy to assume that things which are safe, and even enjoyable, for humans, such as lilies and chocolate, are safe for our pets too. For a full list of commonly reported pet poisons, read our pet poisons information to keep your pet safe this spring time.

cat affecrion owner

Spring cleaning dangers for pets

With spring comes spring cleaning! While keeping a clean house is important for pet care, cleaning products can be dangerous for pets. If you think your pet has ingested even a small amount of any cleaning product, we recommend contacting your local Vet4Pets as soon as possible. 

cat cleaning itself

Protecting your pet from pesky parasites

While new life is all around us during spring, sadly this bloom also extends to some of our more unwelcome species. Fleas, ticks and worms all start to grow in number around Easter as the weather warms up. This increases the chances of your pet coming into contact with them, and potentially getting infected.

dog scratching head (2)

Seasonal allergies in pets

Dogs, and in rarer instances cats, can develop seasonal allergies to pollens. These often manifest as part of a clinical problem called atopic dermatitis, but can occur in isolation. Pets with a seasonal allergy often itch and scratch, and can damage the skin, leading to sores and infections. 

cat scratching head (2)

Garden hazards for cats and dogs

As the weather warms, you want to spend more time in your garden. Unfortunately, so do garden pests such as slugs and snails. As your newly sprouting plants fall foul to these garden invaders, it can be tempting to put out poisons to control these pests. Some of these contain a substance called metaldehyde. This is extremely poisonous to pets, and causes drooling, twitching, fever, seizures (fits) and even death. 

Fertilisers can also upset pets, as the very high levels of minerals can cause toxic imbalances. Some fertilisers also contain herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, which are all potential poisons. 

Preventing problems

Check any slug or snail pellets for metaldehyde. We wouldn’t recommend their use in any garden if they contain this ingredient, as their ingestion can also kill wild animals such as squirrels and wild rabbits. Fertilisers should also be used with care – dig them into the soil thoroughly, and don’t leave any plant food where pets can reach. 

Seeing daffodils blooming is often one of the first signs that we are coming out of winter. Although their bright colour can really cheer up a garden or room, care should be taken if you have dogs. Daffodil bulbs, along with tulip, hyacinth, amaryllis and narcissus bulbs, can cause nasty reactions if eaten, and can even be fatal in some cases. Dogs may be affected as their curiosity means they may dig back up and investigate what you spent so much time carefully planting!  The rest of the daffodil (stem, leaves and flower) are less toxic, but still not good for our pets, so keep an eye on any cut flowers in the house. 

Preventing problems

Keep dogs away from cut flowers that have come from bulbs.  Make sure unplanted bulbs are stored out of reach, and keep your dog away from areas with planted bulbs, especially if they have a history of digging. Pots with bulbs in should be secure. In some cases, areas with bulbs in should be covered by mesh to prevent investigation. If your pet does dig, and is likely to sample any bulbs you plant, the best suggestion is to plant other, less worrisome plants. 

To celebrate spring, Easter is often associated with cut flower bouquets. While beautiful, these often contain lilies, which are highly toxic to cats. In fact they are so toxic that cats can die simply by drinking from the water that lilies have been standing in. This is because the pollen is especially bad for cats, and this can drift into the water from the flowers. Cats who brush against lilies can also get pollen on their fur, and suffer poisoning when they lick themselves clean. 

Lily poisoning causes rapid, and often irreversible, kidney damage to cats. 

Preventing problems

In this case, the best way to avoid lily poisoning is just to not bring lilies at all into a house which has cats. Many cat owners simply bar them from the house, which is an effective way to remove the risk. If you feel you cannot do this, cutting the pollen producing centre of the flower out will reduce the risk, but cats can be poisoned from eating any part of the lily. This means you cannot remove the risk entirely without removing the whole plant itself.  For more information on lily poisoning, visit our lily page. 

More information on lily poisoning

Adders, the UK’s only native venomous snake, come out of hibernation in spring. Although usually placid, if disturbed adder’s can bite, and these injuries are seen most commonly between April and July. There is usually significant swelling and pain at the site of the bite, and approximately 5% of dogs will become much more seriously ill. Contact your vet immediately, and carry bitten dogs to the car and into the vets to limit the spread of the poison.

Preventing problems

Adders are rare, so there is little you can do to limit exposure. They are most commonly found in the south and south west of England, western Wales and Scotland where their preferred habitats are sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges. Being ‘adder aware’ in these types of area, and knowing where to go in case of an emergency, is the best way to prepare. 

More information on adder bites

Just like us, our 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, constriction of the airways and restriction of breathing can be a major concern.

Dogs and cats are especially at risk, due to often having an interest in catching and playing with wasps and bees they may find. Especially during spring when bees and wasps are sluggish and easier prey, pets may find themselves stung on their feet and around the head and inside the mouth especially. 

Preventing problems

If you see bees and wasps inside the home, safely remove them from any areas your pets may have access to. Keep an eye on your pets outside, and if you see them investigating any bees or wasps, remove them from the situation.

Despite our best attempts it is not possible to fully protect our pets from stinging insects. Make sure to have your vet’s number accessible, and if you see any unusual swellings on your pet, take them to the vets for an assessment. 

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