As a dog owner, we can bet that you’re already well aware of the existence of toxins that can potentially harm your best furry friend. However, there are some toxins that are only present during certain seasons, making them four times as hard to remember. But, not to worry; we’ve compiled a list of things to think of and watch out for during each season of the year starting with Spring!
From Spring to early Summer, pollen counts are at their highest and this is when you’re likely to be stocking up on anti-histamine medication. If your dog ingests any amount of anti-histamines it may result in vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, wobbliness and tremors. Some dogs may become hyperactive and hyper-excitable and, if large amounts of anti-histamines have been eaten, convulsions, shallow breathing and a full-on coma may occur.
Alternatively, Daffodils are toxic too; most often after ingestion of the bulb but occasionally after ingestion of the flower heads. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy, and in severe cases, dehydration, tremors and convulsions. These signs can be seen between 15 minutes and one day following ingestion. Other spring flowers, such as crocuses and tulips, are considered to be less toxic but seek advice regardless if you are worried that your pooch has ingested them.
Ant powders, baits or gels rarely result in significant poisoning. The active components of home use products tend to be at a low concentration and are often housed in containers. However, ingestion can cause significant problems and you should contact your vet for advice. Signs include constricted pupils, salivation, wobbliness, tremors and an increase in body temperature. Severe cases may produce shallow breathing and convulsions.
More commonly, Metaldehyde-based slug pellets are among the most dangerous toxins for dogs. Even small amounts can cause significant poisoning and severe signs can occur within an hour of consumption. Dogs that have eaten slug pellets need to be seen ASAP as rapid intervention is the only thing that can save their life. Signs of poisoning can include incoordination, muscle spasms, muscle rigidity, twitching, tremors and convulsions.
Remember conkers? Still play with them? Keep them away from your dog! The conker’s case and conkers themselves present a risk by causing an intestinal blockage. Dogs usually vomit any ingested conkers quickly and treatment to control vomiting may be needed. Any left over gardening supplies and poisons should be locked away now. One-off exposures to products bought in garden centres don’t usually cause any problems, however, repeated exposure to these products or exposure to professional rodent baits can disrupt a dog’s blood clotting ability and can result in massive bleeding.
Decorations and chocolate are your biggest worries here. Tinsel and ornaments can cause intestinal blockages if eaten and your pet may get a nasty shock if they chew through the electrical cable for your Christmas lights. Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all toxic to dogs so keep them out of reach. Ingestion of batteries is more common at this time of year. If the battery is chewed and pierced it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. If they are swallowed whole it is possible they will cause a blockage. All batteries are potentially toxic so if you suspect your dog has chewed or swallowed a battery speak to your local vet immediately.
Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) ingestion is incredibly dangerous as it is sweet-tasting and very palatable for dogs. Even a relatively small quantity can cause serious kidney damage and can be fatal. Unfortunately, the longer the delay between ingestion of the antifreeze and initiation of treatment the less favourable the prognosis.
Perhaps not as joyful as our usual pieces, the nature of this is to warn you about the potential dangers that your dog faces with every change of the season – something we take rather seriously.
If you’re still not sure on some of the seasonal items that you keep around your house, you can always call us or visit us on our website at any time! And if you do find yourself in the middle of an emergency you really shouldn’t be reading this! Click here for our emergency contact list. Otherwise, call 01 8213189 for our Meath and North Dublin clinic, or 01 2987510 for our South Dublin clinic.
Be safe and vigilant, animal amigos, Autumn is unfortunately at our doorstep once again!