Easter is just around the corner and as we enter the first half of spring, with new flowers bursting through in our gardens, it’s worth remembering that the new season also brings new dangers for pets.
From treats like chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, to sticks and cooked bones and beautiful – but harmful - flowers. These are some of the potential dangers our four-legged friends face this time of year.
Here are Direct Line Pet Insurance’s top tips on how to avoid these potential threats and keep your dog healthy, fit and safe this season.
1. Chocolate is toxic
When your dog is sitting at your heels, looking up at you with their adoring eyes, it can be hard to not give in and ‘treat’ them to some chocolate. Although breaking some chocolate off from an Easter egg and giving it to your pet may appear harmless, it is in fact extremely dangerous and can cause severe internal damage and has the potential to be fatal.
Chocolate contains theobromine, which humans can easily metabolise. Dogs, on the other hand, process it slowly and find it hard to break down, allowing it to build up to toxic levels which can result in death if untreated.
Direct Line Pet Insurance received over 1000 claims last year due to pets suffering from food poisoning. Vets also reported chocolate as the most common human food causing illness among dogs.
Vet advice: Stick to healthy nutritional treats for your pet. It’s hard to know what your dog is eating all the time, but during this time of year there’s likely to be a rise of chocolate in households, so please ensure it is kept out of your dog’s reach and kept solely for human consumption.
2. Hot Cross Buns have hidden dangers
Nice and warm, with a little butter can make for a tasty hot cross bun. A popular Easter treat, but did you know that the raisins baked in them can be deadly for dogs?
Grapes and all their dried forms including raisins, sultanas and currants can cause kidney failure to canines. There’s no specific dose a dog needs to eat as each dog reacts individually to the dried fruits, but it can be lethal.
Vet advice: Keep hot cross buns out of reach. If your pet accidentally eats a grape in any form, always call your local vet for advice.
3. Roast Dinners: It’s best to give your dog their own special meal
During Easter Sunday many may be tucking into a tasty roast dinner with all the extra trimmings. As with chocolate, it may be tempting to give your dog some scraps of pork or chicken carcasses, or even the leftover cooked bones, but this can lead to a whole host of problems.
The kind of ingredients that make up some of our favourite parts of a roast dinner (for example, gravy or stuffing, both of which have onions in them) and other items like left-over cooked bones can lead to an upset stomach, bleeding, abdominal pain and bloating and have the potential to cause serious harm to dogs.
Vet advice: If you do want to treat your pet at dinner time, a couple of their favourite pet treats would be a much healthier option - we promise they’ll enjoy them just as much! You can even put them in their bowl to eat at the same time as you sit down for your dinner if you want to make them feel like they’re fully involved.
If your pet has mistakenly ingested poisonous substances call your local vet.
4. We love flowers, but some are harmful (and can cause allergic reactions)
As British summertime begins, the temperatures start to rise and flowers begin to bloom. You may already have bluebells and daffodils sprouting. The warmer weather might also tempt you out into the garden to do some weeding and get the garden back in shape after winter.
Dogs love spending time in the garden but do be cautious of any poisonous flowers, bulbs or plants.
Some of the season’s most common flowers are the most toxic – specifically, bluebells, lilies and daffodils. Bulbs and flowers heads can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy.
Just like humans, some dogs suffer from seasonal allergies like hay fever and dogs can have allergic reactions to plants, grass and flowers to name a few.
Typical allergy symptoms dogs may exhibit include itchy skin, irritated eyes, ear problems, scratching, runny eyes, repeated sneezing and potential behavioural changes.
Vet advice: If you think your pet is having an allergic reaction, contact your vet for advice ASAP. If it is left untreated, it could be very damaging for your pet, and costly too.
5. Spring walks: here’s why you need to be mindful of sticks
As the weather brightens and we have more hours of daylight, more dog owners choose to go for longer walks in woodlands, fields or open green spaces.
But it’s because of this that stick related injuries are common during the season. Here’s why:
Dogs can suffer damage to their tongue, throat and windpipe if they bite a stick that splinters into their mouth and they can even be impaled if they run onto a stick that has lodged into the ground, causing potentially very serious leg injuries.
Direct Line Pet Insurance found that the cost of treating stick related injuries can be significant; the average pet insurance claim for this type of injury is £795.
Claims data had also shown that over 690,000 injuries have been caused to dogs when playing fetch with a stick.
Vet advice: Be conscious of the environment you’re in and what potential hazards lie in wait on long walks with your dog. Take a favourite toy or ball to play with your dog to keep their mind off carrying sticks because they have something even better to fetch instead.