Spring has arrived in Berkshire; the weather is getting warmer (and hopefully staying that way), the daffodils and crocuses are starting to appear and there is blossum on the trees. This is a great time of year and many people will be starting to spend more time outside, whether it be pottering around in the garden, walking around local parks or going out into the beautiful Berkshire countryside.
Unfortunately spring, as with all of the other seasons, can bring with it some problems for our pets.
In The Home
At this time of year a lot of us decide to spring clean the house or do those fun DIY jobs that we have been putting off, such as putting up shelves, re decorating and hanging new pictures.
If you are planning to do a bit of spring cleaning around the home, make sure that you keep all of the cleaning liquids, sprays and cloths out of reach of curious pets. Be careful with dilution rates of floor cleaners as these can irritate delicate paws if they are too strong.
Similarly if you plan to start a DIY project at home, make sure your pets are well out of the way first and that they don’t get the opportunity to play with or ingest any of the bits and pieces you will be using. Paints, solvents and glue are all highly toxic to pets and nails or bits of plastic can be easily swallowed.
In The Garden
Spring plants look lovely as they start to emerge, but remember that a lot of them can be toxic to our pets. Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths and Lilies can all cause problems, so keep an eye on your pet. With some plants it is just the bulbs that are toxic but with others it is the leaves, flowers or pollen that are toxic. If you notice you pet chewing flowers it is wise to prevent access. A list of poisonous plants can be found on the Dogs Trust website.
Many fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides can also be poisonous to pets; Permethrin is a substance used in a lot of insecticides and is highly toxic to cats. If you are using these ensure that your pet is out of the way when they are applied and that they are stored in a safe place.
Cocoa Shell Mulch is a little known, but potentially lethal hazard. Dogs are attracted to these shells by their smell, but they contain theobromine which is very poisonous to dogs. If you own a dog it is much safer to use an alternative such as tree bark.
Common symptoms of poisoning include
• Lack of coordination
• Ataxia (unsteady on legs)
If you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet.
Insect stings and bites usually happen only happen to over-curious pets. Pets are generally stung or bitten on the muzzle area (face) or the feet. Stings and bites normally only cause small localised swellings or irritation, but they can be serious in pets who are stung many times, have a bad allergic reaction or who are stung near the throat. Veterinary advice should be sought for any stings or bites your pet may get.
Out and About
If your dog has been fairly inactive in the winter months, before you start going for long countryside walks or take up jogging with your pet, it is best to gradually increase the amount of exercise you give him or her, to help rebuild muscle tone to avoid any exercise-related injuries.
Swimming can be great fun for dogs that enjoy it, but remember that the weather still isn’t very warm at them moment so make sure that you dry your dog off properly after a swim and that you only allow them to swim in safe places.
Dog owners should remember to keep dogs on leads when walking near farmland as there will be many young Lambs and calves about with protective parents. The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 makes it an offence for any dog to be at large (i.e. not on a lead or under close control) in a field of livestock or be chasing or attacking livestock.
Many cats are natural hunters and there is little you can do to stop them doing what comes instinctively to them. At this time of year there are lots of newborn rodents, birds and bunnies around, which can make easy prey for even the laziest hunter. If you have a cat that likes to hunt make sure his or her worming treatments are up to date.
Many pets will be starting to shed their winter coats as the weather gets warmer. Help them along by giving them a brush (if they will tolerate it) to help get rid of their undercoat and any loose hairs and prevent knots from forming.
Just like people, cats and dogs can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses, and other substances in springtime. Pets with allergies often have symptoms similar to those seen in humans with symptoms such as itchy skin, ear problems runny eyes, hair loss, inflamed skin and respiratory problems.
Take care not to leave caged pets such as birds and rodents directly in front of the windows. The sun can warm up cages very quickly, causing pets to overheat even at this time of year.