Helping you and your pet in social-isolation at Easter: 3 dangerous temptations to avoid
Easter is here again, and we are all having to adapt to new challenges, in every aspect of life. The health of our pets is no exception. Current guidance, as of 31st March 2020, from the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) is that animals should only be seen by their vets for emergencies, or where urgent assessment and/or treatment is needed in order to reduce the risk of a patient deteriorating to the point where they may become an emergency in the near future.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced, UK registered vets? If you are insured with one of our pet insurance partners, your video calls are completely free. You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Please remember, it is important to contact your vet clinic prior to any visit. Every clinic will have special protocols in place to help to protect you, your pet and their staff. If your registered clinic is not open, they will be able to direct you safely to their designated emergency clinic. It is now more important than ever that we do everything we can to keep our pets healthy. Updates from the RCVS on veterinary services can be found here. Our articles online provide advice about common problems, and you will also find some ideas for indoor activities for you and your pet. In this article, we have made a short list of some of the most common problems to look out for over Easter.
Chocolate eggs are synonymous with Easter and of course nothing beats an Easter egg hunt! Dogs have an extremely accurate sense of smell, and so problems can occur when not every egg is found by human hands. Whilst other pets are at risk if they consume chocolate, they tend not to be quite as keen to eat it as our canine friends. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can be toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of theobromine and caffeine, which makes it very dangerous for dogs. White chocolate has the least amount of these ingredients, and milk chocolate is in between the two.
Chocolate consumption can lead to severe ill health, and even cause death, if ingested in sufficient amounts. Initial signs include agitation, restlessness, a raised heart rate, increased drinking, increased urination and gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting and diarrhoea. This can rapidly lead onto an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), seizures and respiratory failure.
If you think your dog has consumed chocolate then speed is of the essence! Assessment by a vet must be carried out immediately. We will need to know the most recent weight of your dog and a close estimation of the amount and type of chocolate that has been eaten. From this information, we can calculate the level of risk to your pet and provide accurate advice about what you need to do next.
To reduce the risk of chocolate toxicity, we advise that chocolate is never left out of a securely locked cupboard or on a surface where a dog can reach it. Remember that with their highly sensitive noses, dogs will find chocolate even if they can’t see it. Ensure that after an Easter egg hunt, all the eggs are counted, and keep your pet away from the area for the duration.
Spring Daffodils are a popular flower around Easter time. Interestingly, the daffodil bulb, leaves, sap and stem can all be toxic for pets. Even the water from a vase containing Daffodil flowers can be toxic to your dog. Daffodils contain toxic alkaloids, mostly concentrated in the bulbs.
Symptoms can range from mild vomiting or diarrhoea, to more severe symptoms such as kidney or liver failure, and potentially life threatening heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmia).
Other toxic plants that often cause issues at this time of year include:
- Lilies (especially in cats, where all parts can be toxic)
If your pet has eaten any part of a plant, and you need advice, please seek help immediately. It will help the vet if you can provide details about which part of the plant was eaten, how much of the plant was eaten, and the weight of your dog. Plant poisonings often involve rapid absorption of the toxins, so a quick response can help your pet to get the help it needs.
It can be very tempting to give leftover food to our pets. However, please think twice before doing this. There are many human foods that pets can’t have. For example, garlic, onions, sweeteners (xylitol), bread dough, mouldy food, grapes, raisins, cherries, apricots, nectarines and peaches, to name but a few.
Lamb is a fatty meat, which can sometimes lead to digestive problems. Feeding bones should also be avoided, for a number of reasons. Dogs may sustain tooth fractures by chewing bones, and if they are not used to bones, it can lead to constipation. In addition, when a bone is cooked it becomes brittle and will splinter more easily. This can damage the oesophagus, stomach and intestine, or cause obstructive blockages, if large pieces are swallowed.
Skin disease is not often something that is associated with Easter, but it can start to become more common at this time of year!
As the weather warms up, ticks start to emerge. Dogs that are walked in areas of woodland or pasture can pick up these and other parasites. There is often an increase in flea populations as the weather starts to warm up too. Most life cycle stages of the flea live in the environment. Female adult fleas simply hop onto an animal to take a blood meal in order to lay eggs, before hopping off, back into the surrounding environment. Please ensure that your pet is up to date with parasite control at this time of year. If you are running out, and your registered clinic is still open, we would recommend contacting them to arrange a prescription.
Just as humans suffer with allergies, so do many pets. Spring is the time of year when pollen levels are starting to rise. With it comes a surge in cases presenting with itchy skin, itchy ears, watery eyes and hair loss. If you are concerned about any of these, please seek advice regarding steps that can be taken to manage your pet’s allergy.
Our FirstVet vet team is here for you and your pet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout Easter and beyond. If you have any questions, please book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our vets. Due to the COVID-19 social-isolation restrictions, all our appointments are free from 12pm-5pm everyday, until 30 April.