Spring is a wonderful time of year; and one that we welcome with open arms. Flowers start to bloom, the leaves return to the trees, the birds begin to chirp, the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. For dog owners, the arrival of spring means more time outdoors to enjoy all these magical things; and where better to do so than on a dog-friendly holiday?
But, before you pack your bags, it’s important to remember that the arrival of spring also brings a few seasonal dangers for our four-legged friends.
From spring flowers and bee stings to allergies and Easter chocolates, we’ve put together a list of the biggest spring hazards for dogs, so you can make sure your canine companion is kept safe on your Bank Holiday break or sunny spring escape.
Dogs love to spend time stopping to sniff flowers and plants in the garden and in parks, but you need to keep a watchful eye when you’re out on your holiday walkies, as some of these flowers and plants can be poisonous to our four-legged friends.
Here are some of the most toxic plants for dogs:
Daffodils – as pretty as they are, daffodils are poisonous to our furry friends. If your dog was to eat a flower, it can lead to vomiting, fitting, lethargy and diarrhoea. The bulbs are the most dangerous part of the plant – if your dog consumes one of these then it could be very serious. You can expect to see these signs from 15 minutes to one day following ingestion.
Lilies – often given as a gift, lilies are a popular spring flower. Although they tend to pose more of a threat to cats, they can also be poisonous to dogs. If your pooch snacks away on a flower head or bulb of a lily they might experience: vomiting, diarrhoea, fitting, dehydration, and in more serious cases, kidney failure.
Tulips – these are generally considered by vets to be less toxic, however, they can still cause your dog a few problems. If your pup munches on a tulip it can cause irritation to their mouth and gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, and drooling. In more serious cases, it can cause heart problems and breathing difficulties.
Other dangerous plants include Amaryllis, bluebells, and crocuses. So keep your curious canine well away from these when you’re out for your scenic strolls!
Although us humans love all the chocolately eggs and treats the Easter bunny brings, it’s important we do not share them with our furry friends. Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine, which is highly toxic and poisonous to both dogs and cats.
The level of toxicity depends on the amount and type of the chocolate, but generally speaking, the more pure the chocolate is, the more theobromine it tends to have. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate and cocoa powder are the most dangerous to dogs, whilst white chocolate only contains small amounts of toxic theobromine. Regardless of what it is, eating chocolate of any kind is unlikely to do your pooch any good; and consuming even the smallest amount could cause them to feel unwell.
So, if you’re planning on tucking into an Easter egg or feasting on some delicious chocolates on your Fido-friendly retreat, be sure to keep your hungry hounds well away!
If you’re wanting to celebrate Easter with your best furry friend, try and get your paws on some dog-friendly Easter eggs! Made using carob, a chocolate alternative that’s completely harmless to dogs, they’re a great option if you want to pig out on Easter choccy together.
Ivy may look innocent, but it can actually be pretty dangerous for your doggie. Although dogs are technically carnivores who’ll predominantly eat meat, they’ll often try to eat whatever fits in their mouth. Nothing about ivy tells your pooch “don’t eat me”, so it’s something us owners need to be wary of.
If your dog does take a bite or two of ivy, it’s unlikely to kill them. However, the toxic chemicals in it can cause problems such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and drooling. Even contact with ivy can produce skin irritation and rashes.
4. Snake bites
So our snake population doesn’t quite match up to our Australian friends, but we do have our very own venomous snake – the European adder, which is native to the UK. Typically found on dry, sandy heaths, sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges, adders are roughly 50-60cms long and can be identified by the black/brown zigzag pattern along their back, and v-shaped marking on the back of their head.
Adder bites are most common this time of year as they’ve just come out of hibernation, but they’ll usually only bite if they’re provoked. A bite from an adder will most likely cause swelling, bruising, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, irritation and lethargy. In more serious cases, dogs may experience blood clots, tremors or convulsions.
5. Wasp & bee stings
Whilst naturally, humans tend to shy away from wasps and bees, typically dogs are prone to chase them and getting stung. Although stings are usually of mild concern, it’ll still be annoying and perhaps a tad painful for your playful pooch.
If your pet has been stung by a wasp or bee sting, you’ll firstly need to check if it’s still in place. If so, remove it carefully, and then apply bicarbonate of soda (with roughly 300ml warm water) to the affected area. You can also apply malt vinegar or lemon juice – both of these seem to do the trick!
It may be slightly more serious if your pup is stung on the mouth, neck or face, as this can cause swelling and a lot of irritation. Some dogs can actually be allergic to certain stings, so if you notice any sort of significant reaction, it’s best to contact your vet immediately.
Sunny days mean barbecues, but even they can pose a threat to greedy doggies!
Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure your dog is kept safe at a barbecue:
Keep food out of reach! – things like corn on the cub, bones and alcohol can all be dangerous to dogs. Even fatty meats can cause issues, so make sure you keep the human and doggie food separate – although you’re probably ok to slip them a sneaky sausage! Just make sure there’s no gravel or dirt attached to them as this can congest their digestive tract.
Keep rubbish/leftovers out of reach – our curious canines are experts at snooping out leftover food, but it’s important we stop them from swallowing something damaging. Things like foil, plastic wrap, greasy residue, and kebab skewers can all be dangerous if your dog gobbles them up.
Keep your dog away from the barbecue – this one is fairly obvious, but even so, you should discourage your dog from being anywhere near the barbecue. Not only is there a risk of them burning themselves or inhaling smoke, but it’s also safer for you to not have a furry trip hazard roaming about whilst you’re cooking and handling hot food!
Just like we do, dogs can develop allergies to certain pollen, plants, grasses and various other things during springtime. Signs that your pooch has is allergic to something typically include itchy or inflamed skin, ear problems, and sometimes hair loss. Other symptoms could be things like runny eyes or breathing difficulties. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about pet allergies, but if it becomes a serious issue, we advise you to contact your vet.
Something we do need to be aware of though is our own allergy medication – antihistamines. We’re likely to have a few packets lying around now the pollen count is on the rise, but they can actually be highly toxic for dogs. If a dog were to eat an antihistamine tablet, they may experience vomiting, lethargy, in-coordination, and tremors. So keep well away!
8. The Sun
Now that the weather is warming up, remember not to walk your dog during the midday sun. It’s easy for dogs to get overheated, so to avoid your pup suffering from dehydration and exhaustion, it’s best to take them on their holiday walkies either early in the morning, or late in the afternoon – ideally in the shade on super warm days.
Have you hatched a plan for your next dog-friendly break?
It’s not too late for a last-minute Easter escape! Sniff out our doggie holiday collections, featuring fabulous pet-friendly hotels and cool canine cottages available to book for Easter weekend, May Day Bank Holiday, and all throughout spring.