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Simple ways to keep your dog safe this spring holiday cottages

Canine Club

Simple ways to keep your dog safe this spring

Elianne Reed 10 January 2020

While spring is possibly the dog-walker's favourite season, with longer (and hopefully sunnier!) days to enjoy a variety of new walkies, it also brings some hidden dangers for our precious pups. With new buds coming into bloom, young livestock around every corner and a whole host of Easter treats on offer, it's important to know what pitfalls to look out for at this time of year. 

We've put together some information for dog owners across the UK - this advice is especially relevant if you're on holiday with your dog, discovering new places and staying in an unfamiliar property. While it may seem that spring is full of hazards, it's also a brilliant and fun time to get out and about with your dog. Just be mindful of the dangers and contact your vet straight away if your pet comes across any of the things listed in our guide.  

Let us guide you through the first season of the year with our top tips of things to watch out for, especially if you've got an inquisitive hound in the family!

Be aware of organic fertilisers 

Dog digging

While organic fertilisers may be great for your plants, they are also tempting to dogs as they are made up of otherwise unused natural animal products, such as blood and bone. That may not sound great to us but if your pups are anything like ours, they will love digging around, getting their nose into all sorts!

While digging and eating a little bit of earth is not really problematic in itself, there may be hidden dangers under the soil which can be dangerous to your pet. In addition, ingesting a lot of organic fertiliser can give your dog gastrointestinal irritation, so do be careful if your hound likes to get his paws dirty.

Top dog tip: If you find that your dog is eating earth in excessive quantities, it's worth consulting your vet as there may be a dietary deficiency or gastric upset that needs to be investigated.

Watch out for poisonous spring plants

Tulips in Spring

Though everybody loves the sight of a host of golden daffodils in bloom, these cheerful spring flowers contain lycorine, a toxic chemical which is known to trigger vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. The bulbs are especially toxic and eating one of these could cause your dog to have a very painful and upset stomach as well as respiratory and cardiac issues.

Tulips and hyacinths should also be avoided - the bulbs especially can cause problems from excess drooling to gastrointestinal upset. Luckily, all of these bright and breezy flowers are easily spotted when in full bloom but do be careful when walking your dog along grassy banks, as growing daffodils can be hard to distinguish from simple grass. If you think that your pet has ingested any part of a toxic plant, call your vet straight away for advice.

Top dog tip: The water from a vase that has had daffodils in it can also be poisonous, so make sure not to leave it within reach - we all know how our dogs will ignore a lovely fresh bowl of water for something yucky!

Keep clear of adders

Adder in leaves

Many dogs are bound to be excited by the longer, sunnier days of spring and will definitely be up for investigating the first smells of the season. While there's nothing nicer than seeing a dog happily sniffing about on their walk, there is a not-so-friendly creature lying beneath the surface - the European adder. The only venomous snake native to the UK, this scaly creature hibernates from October and tends to emerge in the first warm days of March, popping up from beneath logs, rocks or piles of leaves (and surprisingly, sand dunes) when you least expect them.

If surprised by a dog, the adder may bite in self-defence so be particularly careful with puppies and young dogs who may try to turn an encounter with an adder into a fun game! If you hear a yelp, check your pet over and keep an eye on them during the walk. If they experience any swelling, pain or breathing difficulties during or after a walk, contact your vet straight away. 

Top dog tip: Adders tend to be most active in the afternoon, so be particularly careful at this time of day. Most bites tend to occur on the legs or face so pay special attention to these areas.

Don't let hounds near Easter treats

Easter Egg Hunt

We all love a chocolate Easter egg or two and many of us have a huge selection scattered around the house over the Easter holidays. While unwrapping hidden chocolatey delights may be one of our favourite Easter traditions, it can be fatal to those with four paws due to a chemical called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs. Hungry hounds (and non-hungry ones) will go to the ends of the earth to find chocolate, even if you think you've put it well out of paw's reach, so be sure to put all chocolate treats out of harm's way. Be especially careful if you have children who may squirrel choccy eggs and bunnies away, not realising that Fido may well find their hidden treats before they do.

As a rule, baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic types of chocolate, followed by milk chocolate and finally white chocolate. If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, call your vet immediately who will advise a plan of action depending on the size of your dog and the amount consumed. 

Top dog tip: Be just as careful with Easter egg hunts - if you hold one in your garden, be sure to make sure that your children have found all of the eggs before letting Fido and Flora out, and never do them in public places where other dogs may find them before you do. Why not do a hunt with non-chocolate eggs which is much safer and just as much fun?

Keep hot cross buns just for the humans!

Hot Cross Buns

Dried fruit including raisins, currants and sultanas, as well as nutmeg and lemon zest are all toxic to dogs and must be kept well out of reach of wandering paws. Most dogs won't think twice about demolishing a six-pack of hot cross buns (every vet has a tale to tell) so make sure that they are kept not only off counters but also somewhere where your dog can't get to them. One particular Canine Club staff hound (we won't mention names) has even been known to jump onto a high countertop and then open a cupboard with their nose just to get to these tasty treats!

Top dog tip: Many pet stores now do non-toxic Easter treats for dogs, so if you want to spoil them, buy one of these instead or treat them to a lovely new toy.

Watch out for springtime livestock

Lambs and sheep

As many young animals are born at this time of year, it's even more important than usual to keep dogs on leads around wildlife and livestock. While the shock of a loose dog can cause fatalities in both mothers and offspring, it is also harmful for your dog as farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their livestock. You never know what is around the corner in the countryside and fields can change from one day to the next, so never assume that if an area is livestock-free one day, it will be the next.

Top dog tip: Bear in mind also that mothers can be very protective of their offspring and can often become aggressive - keep dogs on leads around spring babies, however well-behaved your dog is.

Prepare for seasonal allergies

Skin allergy in dog

Though pets can suffer from allergies all year round, some develop seasonal allergies to particular pollens and grasses. While dogs may have runny eyes and sneezing as humans do, most canines usually present with skin redness and itching, and sometimes secondary ear and skin infections. It's not always easy to keep dogs away from particular allergens, especially if you don't know what is causing the allergy, but there are allergy tests available on the market which may help once other conditions have been ruled out - consult your vet to see if these may be suitable for your dog.

Depending on symptoms, your vet will provide an appropriate course of treatment for your pet's allergy which may include antihistamines, steroids or more potent immune modulators. Never give a human antihistamine to a dog without checking it is safe with your vet first. 

Top dog tip: Itchy and red skin can also be caused by flea allergy dermatitis so make sure that your dog is protected from these little critters all year round. Your vet can advise on a plan for your dog.

Be careful with the spring cleaning

Spring cleaning

Before you get stuck into your yearly spring clean, or any big clean for that matter, make sure that your products are not toxic to pets. Some disinfectants can be toxic if pets come into contact with them so it's best to keep curious canines away from areas being cleaned until they are dry and safe - read manufacturers' instructions if you are in any doubt about the toxicity of a product. There are lots of pet-safe cleaning products that you can buy with fewer chemicals in them as well as natural cleaning products which are better for both your pet and the environment. 

Top dog tip: If you are in any doubt, we say put off the spring clean for another year - after all, if it's better for your dog... 

Now that you're all clued up for the spring season, why not think about a dog-friendly holiday with your canine pal? With our entire collection welcoming your four-legged friends, there are so many pet-friendly pads to choose from - check out our selection below:

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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