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A Guide to Springtime Adventures with Your Pet: Handling Emergencies with Ease

Spring is a beautiful season and the time to be outside for both you and your pet. The days are longer, flowers are blooming and the sun is out. However, certain dangers come with the changing seasons. Here is what you need to know to keep your pets safe.


With spring comes the blooming of flowers and trees, which means cats and dogs are more likely to experience allergy symptoms due to increased exposure to pollen, mould, and dust mites. Some dog and cat allergy symptoms include sneezing, coughing, itching, and skin irritation. Cat allergies and dog allergies can be treated with medication to alleviate their symptoms.


The garden is a hub for potential toxicities for your pets, with some flowers and plants being toxic. There are many plants poisonous to cats, the most toxic being the lily. Here is a list of poisonous plants for dogs and cats to be aware of:

  • Lilies (cats)

  • Tulips (cats & dogs)

  • Hyacinth (cats)

  • Amaryllis (cats)

  • Bluebells (cats & dogs)

  • Daffodils (cats & dogs)

  • Chrysanthemums (cats)

Some common garden chemicals that can be harmful to pets include weed killers, insecticides, and fungicides. These products can cause a range of symptoms in pets, including vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, and respiratory distress. Fertilisers that contain bone or blood meal can also be dangerous to pets, as they can attract dogs who may try to eat them and end up with blocked intestines. Consider using organic or natural alternatives to chemical fertilisers and pesticides that are safer for pets.

Slug and snail pellets can also be extremely dangerous to pets. Despite the banning of metaldehyde in pellet production since 2019, some owners may have older stock they are using. Metaldehyde is toxic to animals if ingested. Symptoms of metaldehyde poisoning in pets include tremors, seizures, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. Always check the slug and snail pellet ingredients before using them in your garden. Metaldehyde poisoning can result in death so it is vital to act as quickly as possible. Planting rosemary is another good idea to ward slugs and snails away as they do not like their fragrance.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, contact your veterinarian immediately. Please also keep hold of any packaging or leaflets of what your pet has ingested.

Grass Blades

Cats love to eat grass to aid their digestion. However, there can be a risk to this as the grass can occasionally get stuck behind the soft palate. This can cause retching, sneezing and nasal discharge. If your cat starts suddenly sneezing or retching - a stuck grass blade could potentially be the reason why! While sneezing can dislodge the problem, usually afflicted cats need to have a sedative or light anaesthetic to allow a veterinary professional to examine the back of their throat.

The good news is that once they have been removed, your cat will return to normal behaviour. While mowing the lawn might help a bit, sadly cats wander as they please so can often find some grass to chew on. To reduce the risk you might consider getting some cat grass to grow indoors so your cat can aid their digestion safely and avoid an untimely trip to the vet!

Bees and wasps

A dog bee sting is a fairly common occurrence as dogs can barely resist chasing flying objects around the garden. Though painful, they pose a relatively low risk. If your pet has eaten a bee or wasp and been stung in the mouth, any resulting swelling could cause an issue. For most, the issues are localised pain, mild swelling and in some cases outbreaks of unsightly hives (bumps that appear all over the skin). Spectacular look, though usually not life-threatening. It is recommended to bring your pet in for treatment as this can be uncomfortable. Rarely, allergic reactions can be more serious so if your pet shows signs of breathing problems, or extreme lethargy or distress after a sting, take them directly to your nearest vet.


Adder bites pose a significant risk to dogs in the UK, particularly during the warmer months of the year when these snakes are most active. The bites can be extremely dangerous as adders are the only venomous snake native to the UK. The venom can cause severe pain and swelling and, in severe cases, it can lead to symptoms such as fever, increased heart and respiratory rates, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, and even collapse. Some dogs may also experience localised tissue damage around the site of the bite.

If you suspect your dog has been bitten by an adder, immediate veterinary treatment is essential. It's advised not to attempt any home remedies or to try removing the venom yourself, as this can exacerbate the condition. Instead, try to keep your dog calm and still during the journey to the vet to prevent the venom from spreading quickly. The vet may administer antivenom treatment, which is most effective if given within four hours of the bite. They may also provide other supportive treatments such as pain relief, fluid therapy, and possibly antibiotics, depending on the severity of the bite. Remember, the sooner the treatment, the better the prognosis for recovery.

Ticks and Fleas

Fleas are a common parasitic problem in pets that can lead to significant health issues if not effectively managed. These small, agile insects feed on the blood of their hosts, causing discomfort and irritation due to their bites. Fleas are not just a nuisance; they pose serious health risks. They can transmit tapeworms and diseases, and their bites can lead to allergic reactions, often resulting in intense itching and inflammation. In severe cases, this can cause hair loss, skin infections, and anaemia, especially in young or frail pets. Fleas also reproduce quickly, making infestations hard to control. Once present in a household, they can spread to various areas – including soft furnishings and bedding – making eradication even more challenging. Hence, prevention and prompt treatment of flea infestations are vital to maintaining your pet's health and comfort.

Ticks are also a concern for pet owners in the UK, due to their potential to transmit serious diseases. These tiny, spider-like creatures attach themselves to pets and feed on their blood, during which they can transmit pathogens causing diseases such as Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. Symptoms of these diseases may include fever, lameness, joint swelling, and in severe cases, more serious complications like kidney disease or neurological disorders. Furthermore, ticks can multiply quickly and infest pets and homes if not dealt with promptly. Therefore, regular checks for ticks, especially after walks in wooded or grassy areas, are crucial. Swift and correct removal of ticks are essential to reduce the risk of disease transmission. In addition, using vet-recommended preventative treatments can help protect your pet from ticks and the diseases they carry. By treating ticks, you are taking an important step in safeguarding your pet's health.

Receiving regular tick and flea preventative treatment delivered straight to your door (with text reminders so you don’t forget to give a dose) is one of the many benefits of joining Vital Pets Club. Learn more about membership here or by calling us on 020 8459 4729 to choose the best plan for your pet.

Make the most of the lovely weather with your pet! If you do have any concerns, call us on 020 8459 4729 to book an appointment.


Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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