Wasp stings, allergies, ticks: How to keep your pets safe in spring
Now that spring in the air many of us are looking forward to the balmy evenings ahead. However, while enjoying the brighter days and warmer weather, it’s important to look out for your pets and avoid any hidden dangers that come with the season.
“With warmer weather comes some dangers for our pets, such as ticks, poisonous plants and wasps,” said Helen Wikeley, a veterinary surgeon at animal welfare charity Battersea.
“Owners should make sure they are planting pet-friendly flowers in their gardens and keep an eye on their dogs and cats throughout spring to ensure they are enjoying the lighter days as much as we are while also staying safe. If your pet does come into contact with anything dangerous, make sure to seek veterinary advice immediately.”
With this in mind, Battersea has issued advice about how to keep your pets safe.
Wasp and bee stings
If your dog or cat is stung by a bee or wasp, they are most likely to suffer from a swollen paw or face with some localised pain or irritation. This should go away after a short period of time, however in some cases, your pet may be allergic to the sting, which can result in a severe reaction and could be fatal if not treated.
Some tell-tale signs that your dog has been stung by a wasp or bee include:
biting or giving attention to the area
swelling in specific area
holding up or pawing at the affected area
Signs that your cat has been stung include:
nibbling or suddenly giving attention to the area
yowling or vocalising more than usual
swelling in the area or pawing at the sting
Further symptoms which may suggest that your dog or cat has had an allergic reaction to a sting include:
rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
weakness or collapsing
excessive swelling around the area of the sting and spreading away from it
If you notice any of these signs, your dog or cat is stung several times in one go or is stung on the throat or mouth, you should contact your vet urgently for advice. If these reactions happen, your vet is likely to ask you to bring your pet straight in for treatment.
Plants and bulbs
Flowers and plants are a great way to get your home full of the joys of spring, but it’s important to be aware of the common flowers and houseplants that can be poisonous for your pets.
Daffodils, lilies, tulips, hyacinths and bluebells can all be harmful to pets, especially if their bulbs are ingested. Make sure that any plants you bring into your home are pet-friendly or well out of reach and consider spraying your flowers with non-chemical, natural pet repellents.
Symptoms of plant poisoning that pet owners should be aware of include drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and increased heart and respiratory rates. If you notice any of these symptoms and think your pet might have been poisoned, contact your vet immediately.
Ticks are small insects that can spread diseases by transmitting bacteria and microbes when they bite. They are common in woodland and other grassy areas, especially as the weather warms up.
After your dog or cat has been outside, make sure to run your hands over them to check for any ticks that they may have picked up – they are normally easy to spot. If you do find a tick, it is important to remove it quickly to lessen the chances of your pet catching a disease.
It is vital that a tick is removed correctly – if you squeeze the tick, or leave its head inside your pet’s body, the risk of infection is increased. It is best to use a specifically designed device to twist the tick off, which can be purchased from a pet shop.
Consider talking to your vet about preventative products for ticks, which can be used as part of a routine, particularly if you are in a tick prone area.
Just like humans, dogs (and sometimes cats) can suffer from seasonal allergies, which cause their skin to itch. In the spring, common causes include an increase in pollen and allergies to grass and trees.
When pets develops a seasonal allergy, this can cause them to have itches and they can develop sore spots on their skin and have an increased risk of infection. If you notice your pet scratching itself and you think it might have an allergy, make sure to get in touch with your vet. Cool packs or wet flannels can be used to soothe any sore spots on your pet’s skin.
Animals can sometimes develop red, watery eyes in hot dry weather and may get dust or pollen stuck in them as a result. To help with this, gently clean around their eyes with damp cotton wool.