Spring is here! So what does that mean for your pet?

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.

honey_bee_extracts_nectarBee 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.

grass-pollen-by-pep-peSkin 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.


snailsGarden 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.


Eastern-Tiger-Snake_Notechis-scutatusSnakes: 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.




smell flowersLove 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.


dog-picture-photo-hat-sunglassesHeatstroke: 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.


Melting Snow Dangerous to Pets and People

By Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor   |   February 20, 2014 04:25pm ET


As winter’s snow slowly melts, people may be happy to see that sidewalks are finally free of ice and slush. But those ice-free sidewalks and roadways may hold an even more dangerous threat: death by electrocution.

Several blocks of busy Sixth Avenue in downtown Manhattan were cordoned off to pedestrians and vehicles yesterday (Feb. 19), following reports of a powerful electric current surging through sidewalk grates, manhole covers and the doorknobs of nearby buildings, Gothamist reported.

The problem was a defective electric cable, according to service provider Consolidated Edison (Con Ed). Though no injuries were reported, similar incidents in the recent past have proved deadly to people and pets.

In winter 2004, graduate student Jodie Lane, 30, was electrocuted to death while walking on a damp street in New York City. Con Ed later admitted that her death was the result of poorly insulated electrical wires.

In 2007, two dogs were electrocuted in as many days after walking on New York City sidewalks where snow and ice had melted. One dog died; the other was revived after its dog walker was able to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the pet.

And earlier this month, a pit-bull-terrier mix was electrocuted just steps from the front door of its owner’s Manhattan apartment. “We were entering the building when Bella started acting funny,” the dog’s owner told the New York Daily News. “She let out a cry. She didn’t seem to want to go into the building. Then, she went into a spasm and just laid there.”

Winter’s deadly shocks

It’s not a coincidence that these electrocutions all happened in winter, during periods when the weather was just warm enough to melt the snow and ice that had accumulated on roads and sidewalks.

Water can conduct electricity, though not very efficiently. The conductivity of water is greatly increased when salts and other inorganic chemicals (such as calcium, magnesium and chloride compounds) are dissolved in water.

And those dissolved minerals — especially sodium chloride (NaCl), calcium chloride (CaCl2), magnesium chloride (MgCl2) or potassium chloride (KCl) — are the exact compounds found in deicers commonly spread on sidewalks and roads to melt ice and snow.

So when ice and snow begin to melt, deicing minerals are dissolved in the meltwater, creating a perfect conduit for any electrical charge that may be present in wires that are frayed or have cracked insulation.

In the most recent case of electrocution, Con Ed was able to determine that the electric current from a frayed electric wire on a building’s scaffolding was responsible for the dog’s death.