Springtime dangers for pets: what you need to know
With the sunnier and longer days of spring, many of us will be spending more time outdoors - as will our cats and dogs. But did you know that our gardens harbour an array of pet health hazards? Vet Marc Abraham explains
Spring has now sprung - and while April showers and hosepipe bans make easy distractions for pet owners, it's now time to put our four-legged friends' health and happiness first and prepare for the next season of potential hazards.
Warmer weather and lighter evenings equal more time spent enjoying our gardens, starting with simple weeding and planting. But while many of the plants that we commonly keep are beautiful to look at, these garden favourites can do some serious damage to our pets.
For example, bulbs of popular flowers such as daffodils can prove deadly if eaten. Other toxic plants, including tulips, snowdrops, lily of the valley and aconite, can also cause serious internal problems and sometimes even death.
Sadly, there are no specific antidotes to these dangerous plant toxins, so if you notice any signs of poisoning - for example, excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, appearing 'drunk' or even collapsing - then contact your vet immediately so treatment can be started as soon as possible.
Many of us also like bringing these same flowers indoors as bouquets. Lilies are a big unknown danger, carrying pollen so poisonous that it can cause irreversible kidney failure in curious cats.
As well as toxic plants, pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers all need to be kept in safe, inaccessible places, as these can lead to serious problems if swallowed; you should also prevent access to plants that have already been treated with such substances. In many cases, safer non-toxic alternatives are preferable and are equally effective.
Spring is also the time of year that fleas, ticks and other parasites really make their presence felt. Their populations increase dramatically in warmer weather, with dogs and cats equally popular targets, resulting in widespread discomfort and, potentially, Lyme disease or tapeworm.
Just as with people, dogs and cats can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses, and many other substances in springtime. However, allergies in pets will appear as itchy skin and ear problems, accompanied by hair loss or inflamed skin. Some pets will even change their behaviour due to irritation, or even suffer respiratory symptoms or runny eyes.
As with all conditions, the sooner pets are treated, the better their chances of recovery. But prevention is always key, so make sure your dogs and cats aren't tempted by spring flowers, and leave them intact for we humans to enjoy instead.
Marc Abraham is a TV vet who regularly gives the nation pet advice on This Morning, BBC Breakfast and Daybreak. As well as promoting responsible pet ownership, rescue pet adoption, microchipping and responsible dog breeding, Marc is also an active campaigner against the puppy farming industry and is the founder of Pup Aid. Marc has also written the books Vet on Call and Pets in Need and also has the Canine Care iPhone app for dog owners. For more about Marc, visit www.marcthevet.com or follow him on Twitter @marcthevet