Spring hazards - keeping your pets safe

It's a wonderful time of year, but Easter and Spring can bring extra dangers to your pets! The key is to be prepared and know the dangers to look out for...

The days are lighter, the weather is warmer, and we are beginning to see signs of new life all around us, it's a great time of year!

However, as with all times of celebration, there are more hazards than usual for your pets at Easter time. Chocolate is a favourite Easter treat and many families will have far more chocolate in the house than usual.

Easter eggs and other chocolate treats look enticing but can pose a real danger. Chocolate can be highly toxic for your pets so needs to be kept out of their reach. Dogs especially, will consume enormous amounts of chocolate if given the chance. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, and in extreme circumstances heart problems and seizures. The darker the chocolate, the greater the risk.

The second hazard posed by chocolates and Easter eggs is the packaging. Dogs will often consume the chocolate with the wrappers still on, and some cats are enticed by the sparkly wrapper and try to eat it. The box and the wrappers if consumed can lodge in throats or the digestive tract causing a blockage that may require surgery to remove it.

Grapes can prove extremely toxic; and many of our favourite Easter foods such as hot cross buns or fruit cakes contain dried versions such as raisins, sultanas, and currants. Just one of these tasty fruits can prove fatal to your pet by causing kidney failure. And it’s not just sweet treats that are the culprits these dried fruits can also be found lurking in sauces, stuffing, pickles, and preserves.

Rabbits are delicate creatures and the tiniest amount of chocolate, bread, avocado or potato will cause severe illness. Any ingestion of these foods should be treated as an emergency.

Perhaps less well known are the toxic properties of sugar-free sweets. These are good for our human waistlines but often contain Xylitol which has been found to be toxic to both cats and dogs. Even a small amount can affect your pet’s insulin level causing low blood sugar and this can lead to your pet falling into a coma. 

 

Here are 5 other Spring toxins to watch out for at this time of year:

1. Spring bulbs  

Daffodil, tulip and crocus bulbs are toxic and can poison a dog or cat if they were to dig up and eat any. If they do, they could suffer side effects from fitting or heart and blood pressure problems, to vomiting and diarrhoea. But it's not just the bulbs to worry about, ingesting daffodil flowers or even drinking the water from a vase of them could be enough to make your pet unwell.

 2. Herbicides & fungicides – plant and fungal-killing chemicals 

Examples of these are weed killer and mildew control. Toxicity among herbicides varies enormously, but pet poisoning can occur from as little contact as brushing up against a treated plant. The results can vary from vomiting to liver failure – so keep these chemicals well away from your pets at all times.

 3. Rodenticides – rat or mouse killers

If you find you have a rodent problem and you have pets, never use rodenticides. They are as attractive to your cat or dog as they are to the rodents they are designed to kill, and that’s why they account for so much of the pet poisoning seen by vets every year.

Symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, lameness or bruising are typical, as well as vomiting, excitability, changes in body temperature and fitting. Even if you haven’t used this poison yourself but your pet is displaying symptoms, it could be that they have eaten poison elsewhere - for example, a poisoned mouse – so always seek veterinary advice immediately.

 4. Antihistamines

The blossom is starting to come out, and for many of us that means hay fever is kicking in. Always be very careful not to leave antihistamines lying around as they can prove highly toxic to pets. Symptoms to look out for include agitation, lethargy, vomiting, aggression and seizures, and they could prove fatal.

 5. Lilies

Beautiful they may be, but they are also highly dangerous to cats. For some, even being in the same room as lilies can be enough to cause a toxic reaction. If there’s even a chance that your cat has come into contact with them in a vase or as a plant, seek veterinary advice immediately as any delay could result in kidney failure or even death.

 

If you believe your pet has been exposed to or ingested something toxic, always seek veterinary help immediately. As a valued Agria customer, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.