Spring is a lovely time of year, spending time with your family and pets in the nice warm weather but it is worth being aware of some of the hazards that are around, which could cause serious harm to your cat or dog. Here’s a handy guide to some of the risks and hazards to be aware of to keep your pets safe.
Lovely spring daffodils can unfortunately be poisonous to dogs as they contain naturally toxic chemicals (glycosides and alkaloids). The highest levels are generally found in the bulbs, but poisoning can occur when dogs eat other parts of the plant including the flower and stems. The most common symptoms are gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhoea, but also abdominal pain, lethargy, dribbling and a raised body temperature.
Lilies are extremely toxic, particularly to cats. There are a large number of toxic species of lily including easter lilies, show lilies, and tiger lilies. All parts of the plant including the petals, pollen and leaves are poisonous and can result in severe toxicity. Symptoms may include vomiting, lethargy and your pet going off their food, as the toxin damages the kidneys and can lead to acute kidney failure. Prompt treatment is vital; if supportive treatment is initiated within a few hours then the prognosis is more hopeful.
Other species, such as lily of the valley, can also be toxic but have different effects, so for safety, assume all lilies are toxic.
Hot Cross Buns
Whilst a toasted hot cross bun dripping with butter has us humans drooling, unfortunately it’s not a treat to share with your pet. The raisins and sultanas found in hot cross buns are incredibly toxic to dogs, and even a very small amount can cause significant problems – the level of toxicity isn’t dependent on how many they’ve eaten. They can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and can lead to kidney failure – your pet may be more thirsty than usual, off colour and urinate less. Prompt treatment is vital.
With Easter on it’s way there’s often plenty of chocolate around, and while it’s super tasty for us humans, it’s really important to make sure that your pets don’t get any. Be careful not to leave any lying around or on low work surfaces that your dog could reach. Chocolate contains a harmful substance called theobromine which is poisonous to cats and dogs.
Chocolate ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, excitability, tremors/muscle twitching, seizures and heart problems, and in some cases it can be fatal. The severity of the poisoning depends on how much has been eaten and what type of chocolate it is. Dark chocolate and raw cocoa contain more theobromine than milk or white chocolate. If you suspect your dog has eaten any chocolate, contact your vet immediately and remember to take any packaging with you.
Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetner that is found in a lot of sweets, cakes and baked goods. It’s very toxic to dogs as it causes hypoglycemic (low blood sugar level) shock, potentially seizures and liver damage, and in some cases can be fatal. Toxicity can occur even if they’ve only ingested a very small amount. Symptoms can occur quite quickly – including vomiting, weakness, wobbliness, lethargy, tremors or seizures.
Many brands of slug and snail bait contain a toxic substance called Metaldehyde. Unfortunately this substance can be poisonous, even if just a small amount is eaten. Symptoms such as incoordination, spasms, twitching and seizures can occur within an hour of being eaten, and can be fatal if left untreated. Your pet will need urgent veterinary treatment.
The only venomous snake in the UK is the common Adder. They often live in sand dunes, moors, woodland or dry heathland. Generally they will only bite when provoked but, especially for inquisitive young dogs, this can happen accidentally. If your dog is bitten, seek urgent veterinary attention. The swelling from the bite can be quite severe, it may also cause vomiting, diarrhoea, drowsiness and lethargy, as well as bruising and pain around the site of the bite. If left untreated this can lead to clotting problems, collapse and seizures.
If you suspect your pet may have eaten or been affected by anything mentioned in this guide, or is showing any symptoms, contact your vet immediately. The sooner your pet can be given life saving treatment the better the prognosis.