At last spring seems to have finally arrived with many of us now excited about the prospect of spending more time outdoors - as will our cats, dogs, and rabbits - but did you know that our own back gardens can harbour an array of pet health hazards?
Warmer weather and lighter evenings mean more time spent enjoying our gardens, starting off with simple tasks such as weeding and planting. But it's important to remember that while many of the plants that we commonly keep are beautiful to look at - they're also capable of causing serious damage to the health of our precious pets.
For example, bulbs of popular flowers - such as daffodils - can prove deadly if eaten; with other toxic plants, including tulips, snowdrops, lily of the valley, and aconite, potentially causing serious internal problems too - even death.
Sadly, there are no specific antidotes to these dangerous plant toxins either, so if you notice any signs of poisoning e.g. excessive salivation, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, appearing 'drunk', or even collapsing - then please contact your vet immediately.
Many of us will often bring some of these cut flowers indoors as bouquets, but please remember lilies carry pollen that's so poisonous to cats it can cause irreversible fatal kidney failure even if the smallest amount is ingested, e.g. swallowed whilst grooming after brushing past a lily flower.
As well as these toxic plants - harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers all need to be kept in a safe place too as these can lead to serious internal problems if swallowed. Do your best to prevent access to plants that have already been treated with these chemicals. When shopping for these substances always read the label; why not consider using safer non-toxic alternatives instead?
The onset of spring often also means we're now joined by creepy-crawlies including fleas, ticks, and other parasites that really start to make their annoying presence felt; with populations increasing dramatically with rising temperatures. As most of us have experienced this usually results in all-too-familiar discomfort suffered by both us and our pets, including bites, rashes, and even serious disease transmission, e.g. tapeworms, Lyme disease.
Just like the sensitive among us, dogs and cats can also develop allergies to plants, pollen, and grasses; manifesting itself in a wide range of clinical symptoms from itchy skin, ear problems, runny eyes, behaviour changes, with some experiencing occasional hair loss and inflamed skin too.
As with all medical conditions, the sooner your four-legged friends are treated, the better their chances of making a full recovery; but prevention is always key so make sure your dogs and cats aren't tempted by spring flowers, and their parasite control is up to date with products purchased from your vet.
If you're worried your pet has eaten or just come into contact with something he/she shouldn't have, or concerned your pet's flea/tick/worm treatment needs a review, then don't hesitate to contact your vet immediately for advice - they'll all have emergency lines answered 24/7.