Easter Hazards for Pets
After the long, dark days of winter, the warm evenings and brightly coloured flowers of spring often can’t come quickly enough – and we’re not the only ones who look forward to this time of year.
Spring also means our pets can spend more time outside, bask in the sun and explore our gardens and beyond. However, with the sun, flowers, and the promise of Easter chocolate come a few extra risks for your pet.
Petplan takes a look at some of the additional issues your pet may face during the spring months...
Toxic Easter treats
Easter gives us the chance to spend quality time with our families, along with plenty of Easter chocolate and tasty hot cross buns. However, Easter treats can pose a threat to our pets. Chocolate poisoning causes lots of pet emergencies every year, especially around Easter time when Easter egg hunts mean that chocolate is left lying around for them to find.
Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which can be deadly to cats and dogs. This is because unlike us, they can’t metabolise theobromine effectively. Different types of chocolate have varying levels of theobromine, with dark chocolate containing more than milk chocolate.
The most common symptoms of chocolate poisoning include:
- Urinating more
- An irregular heartbeat
A large dose of chocolate can even induce a coma or death. Symptoms can occur within a few hours to up to a day after ingestion. If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, contact your vet immediately.
Other Easter treats should also be kept out of your pet’s reach, including hot cross buns. These fruity buns contain ingredients such as sultanas, raisins, dried fruit, lemon zest and nutmeg, which are all toxic to animals. Easter sweets containing artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol can also be dangerous for pets if ingested and should be kept away from animals.
Easter decorations can also be hazardous for pets, such as the fake grass and little fluffy chicks that come in Easter baskets. If your pet swallows these, they can get stuck at the back of their throats, or in their stomachs and will not be able to pass through the intestines. Keep Easter decorations and small toys well out of your pet’s reach, or consider using different, safer, decorations this year.
Poisonous plants and flowers
Certain flowers, shrubs, wild plants and mushrooms can be extremely dangerous for your pet, so it’s important to be aware of this to keep your pets safe in the garden this Easter.
Species of poisonous plants that are common during the springtime include:
While it’s impossible to know where your pet is at all times, ensuring your garden is free from these plants will limit their exposure to potentially harmful flora. You should also beware of snail and slug pellets, as they have a toxic compound in the pellet that can cause poisoning for pets.
Outdoor flowers are one thing, but as many people like to decorate their home with fresh flowers in spring, you should also be mindful of spring bouquets. For example, all parts of Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats, including the petals, leaves, stem and pollen. Ingesting even a small part of this plant can cause severe kidney failure. Before you buy flowers, check that they pose no risk to pets and advise guests to do the same before visiting your house.
If you do happen to notice any signs of poisoning – such as vomiting, drooling, diarrhoea, disorientation or even collapsing – then contact your vet immediately.
Just like people, cats and dogs can also develop allergies to plants, grass, pollens and other substances during springtime – and the symptoms can often be very similar to ours. These include:
- Itchy skin
- Ear problems
- Hair loss
- Inflamed skin
- Respiratory issues (allergies can also aggravate your pet’s asthma if they suffer from it)
- Runny eyes
- Change in behaviour
If you notice these symptoms, take your pet for a check-up at the vet.
Fleas and ticks in warmer weather
Along with sunshine, spring brings about many pesky little creatures. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to limit the chances of your pet getting fleas and ticks:
- Treat your pet with anti-flea and tick products. There are many products on the market and many sold within pet shops are ineffective, so it’s best to check with your vet who can advise on the best treatment
- Ensure all soft furnishings are cleaned, the house is vacuumed regularly and use a household flea spray
- If you have a dog, you may use Permethrin as a flea treatment. However, Permethrin is highly toxic and even fatal to cats, so should not be used. If you accidentally apply this to your cat or if the cat has come into close contact with a treated dog, bath the cat in lukewarm water with a mild detergent and contact your vet immediately.
Sometimes, even with all the care in the world, your pet can still get fleas. Symptoms include:
- Dark specs in their fur
- Bites on your own skin
- Hair loss especially around the back/tail area
You can regularly check your pet for fleas by combing them with a fine-tooth comb over a white sheet. If there are many dark specs these are highly likely to be flea droppings.
Insect bites and stings
Another factor to consider when taking care of your pets around Easter is insects. Pets often enjoy chasing after wasps and bees, and in the process can be stung.
In most cases wasp and bee stings are not emergencies and if the sting is not too serious, you can treat it yourself. For a pet with a bee sting, remove the sting if it’s still in place and clean the area with a little bicarbonate of soda. For a wasp sting, gently clean the area with lemon juice or malt vinegar.
However, if your pet is stung near the mouth or neck then you may need to contact your vet. Like humans, cats and dogs can be allergic to stings. If this is the case, you may notice swellings, distress and breathing difficulties.
Do you have any other advice on Easter or springtime dangers for pets? Let us know in the comments below...
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