Spring is finally here in the Lehigh Valley, which usually marks the beginning of the busy season here for us at Allentown Animal Clinic. There are some hazards that are more common in spring, and taking appropriate precautions may help your pet avoid an unfortunate vet visit, or allow an issue to be managed before it worsens.
Allergic reactions become increasingly common in the warmer weather. Allergic reactions may present as an acute allergy, such as in the event of a bee sting, or as a less acute presentation as with flea bite hypersensitivity or pollen allergies.
Bee stings: Being stung by a bee, wasp or sometimes even a bull ant bite can cause an acute allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis. Typically owners see their pets being fine one moment, with a very swollen face the next. It’s usually not painful, but a pet’s face can become so swollen that they cannot see, and their lips become very fat. There is a risk of the airway becoming affected and your pet having breathing difficulties. All pets may suffer severe side effects, so we always recommend contacting your veterinarian even if you have tablets at home for such an event. Short faced dogs and cats are particularly at risk. Most dogs don’t learn that they react to insect stings, so many also become repeat offenders.
Skin Allergies: Dogs and cats can be allergic to pollens, grasses and dust mites just like we can. They tend not to get the sniffles and symptoms that we typically associate with hayfever. Instead they tend to get itchy. They may develop itchy feet, itchy abdomen, itchy tail base or even itchy ears and face. The pattern of itch will depend on the individual pet and what they are allergic to. Typically if a pet is allergic to a particular plant they will be worse at one particular time of year, and for most pets that is spring or summer.
Garden Hazards: The big hazard in the garden for pets in spring are things we put there, Snail Bait being one of the most frequent poisonings seen at emergency centres. There are no ‘pet safe’ snail pellets. Snail baits that claim to be pet safe contain Iron EDTA, which will cause severe intestinal injury and potentially liver failure. Other types of snail bait cause seizures until death. If you do have a snail problem, consider a beer trap instead. Fertilisers and compost can also be toxic if eaten, and there have been several reported cases of theobromine toxicity in dogs that have eaten cocoa mulch.
Snakes: While we rarely see snake bite envenomations locally, there are venomous snakes living in Melbourne. They are more likely to be encountered near parks with native vegetation, such as Braeside Park and Kingston Heath Reserve. If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, or even seen them playing with a dead snake, please contact a veterinarian immediately.
Love is in the air, so are abscesses: Cats are seasonal breeders and the warmer weather means any non-desexed cat is going to be feeling increasingly amorous. However, it’s not all romance for these cats and we often see our feline friends, even those who are desexed, for cat fight injuries including abscesses. Occasionally we see cats who are becoming stressed by the roving neighbourhood tomcat marking his territory in their yard and subsequently developing toileting problems themselves.
Heatstroke: The first unseasonably hot days are often the ones where we see most cases of heat stroke, particularly in elderly dogs. Please do not exercise your dogs in the heat. Dogs do not sweat like humans do and are dependant on panting to cool down. Dogs which are elderly, overweight, short faced or that have cardiac or respiratory disease are particularly at risk. Having a bowl of water to drink is not enough, dogs must be able to cool down in hot weather.
Spring is a wonderful time of year for both you and your pet, but please keep these points in mind while you enjoy the great outdoors.