Posted 16th April
National Pet Month provides pet owners up and down the country with the opportunity to celebrate their four-legged friends
However, April will typically be one of the busiest months of the year for vets, as out-of-hours emergency service, Vets Now, has warned. They reported a 33 per cent surge in calls as worried pet owners will battle with the unexpected dangers of Spring.
Dave Leicester, Head of Clinical Intelligence, Vets Now said: "Springtime normally brings an increased number of cases to our out-of-hours clinics. Brighter and sunnier days mean that people and their pets are out and about enjoying the weather. We tend to see more road traffic accidents, cat fights, dog bites, allergic reactions and occasionally cases of heat stroke."
Here, Vets Now has drawn up a list of the main hazards to look out for, for both cats and dogs:
Make sure you keep any leftover Easter eggs and chocolate treats out of your pet's reach. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs. The amount of theobromine will differ, depending on the type of chocolate you have, with both dark and baking chocolate containing the most.
Don't forget that classic spring snacks such as hot cross buns will contain raisins. Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas can all cause kidney failure in dogs, with experts agreeing there is no "safe" dose of grapes and raisins.
3 Spring flowers
Cats and dogs will love to spend time in the garden, so keep an eye out for poisonous plants. This time of year, toxic species include lilies, daffodils and azaleas. Daffodils can be toxic - the bulbs in particular. However, the flower heads also cause vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy, and in more severe cases, even dehydration, tremors and convulsions. These signs can be exhibited from 15 minutes to one day following ingestion.
All parts of the bluebell are poisonous to dogs, and ingesting can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort, along with a risk of heart beat irregularity (arrhythmia) if a significant quantity is ingested.
Other spring flowers, including crocuses and tulips, are also considered to be less toxic, but if you're worried your pet has eaten them, seek veterinary advice.
4 Slug and snail pellets (metaldehyde)
Be careful if you use slug or snail pellets, pesticides or other chemicals in your garden. There is a toxic compound in slug and snail pellets called metaldehyde (this isn't in every product), which, if eaten in small amounts can cause significant poisoning. You will see signs within an hour of ingestion, which includes incoordination, muscle spasms, twitching, tremors, seizures and even death if it's left untreated. Your cat and dog will need urgent veterinary treatment if affected - avoid using cocoa shell mulch too, as this contains the same toxic ingredient as chocolate.
Eating ivy will typically cause drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea in dogs. In more severe cases, it could even cause blood in the vomit or faeces. Encountering ivy could also cause skin reactions, conjunctivitis, itchiness, and skin rashes.
6 Grass blades
A surprisingly big cause of pet emergencies will be grass blades. Cats who have a penchant for eating long grass or decorative grasses could find the blades stuck in their nose and throat, subsequently causing breathing problems, coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite and nasal discharge.
7 Adder bites
The common European adder (Vipera berus) is the UK's only native venomous snake. Adults are around 50-60cm long and normally have black or brown zigzag patterns along their back, along with a V-shaped marking on the back of their head. Adders are typically found on dry, sandy heaths, sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges. Generally, they will only bite when provoked, which will rarely occur during the winter when the snake is hibernating. Instead, they regularly happen in the spring, as adders will be sluggish as they come out of hibernation.
The swelling caused by an adder bite can prove to be severe, with other signs including bruising, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, restlessness, drowsiness and lethargy. Breathing problem can be caused by swelling around the head and neck too.
Dogs could eventually collapse, have blood clotting problems, tremors or convulsions - you should therefore seek veterinary attention if you believe your dog has been bitten.
If you're having a springtime barbecue, ensure your cat or dog stays a safe distance away - kebab skewers, alcohol and bones all pose hazards.
Just like people, cats and dogs can be allergic to plants, pollens, grasses and other substances. Allergies in pets will normally appear as itchy skin and ear problems, accompanied by hair loss or inflamed skin - some can even change their behaviour due to irritation, while others will suffer respiratory signs or runny eyes.
Between spring and early summer is when owners are most likely to stock up on anti-histamine medication, which can also prove toxic to dogs - signs of ingestion include vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, wobbliness and tremors - these will develop within four to seven hours. Some dogs can end up becoming hyper-excitable, and if large amounts have been eaten, convulsions, respiratory depression and a coma can occur.
10 Insect stings
Cats and dogs often like to chase and play with wasps and bees and can be stung. Most cases will not be emergencies - if a bee sting occurs, simply check and remove the sting, if it's still in place, then bathe the area in bicarbonate of soda (one teaspoon to 300ml of warm water). With wasp stings, bathe the area with malt vinegar or lemon juice, and if your cat is stung in or near the mouth or neck, they could need veterinary help. Pets, just like humans, can be allergic or become allergic to stings - signs include swellings, distress and breathing difficulties.
Information courtesy of Vets Now