PDSA Paw Time - Vet’s key tips to keep your pets safe in spring months
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity, on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.
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PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing said: “Being in the great outdoors has many benefits to physical and mental health, for humans and four-legged friends alike, but it’s important to remember to keep our precious pets safe from any hidden dangers that the new season may bring.
Curious by nature. “Our pets are curious creatures, often keen to explore plants and trees, but some can be toxic, or even fatal, if eaten. Whatever the season, it’s important to be aware of the hidden hazards that some of the beautiful new blooms can pose for our four-legged family members. Types to watch out for during springtime include azaleas, daffodils, hyacinth, cotoneasters, geraniums, tulips and irises.
“For avid gardeners, installing fencing will help deter your four-legged friend from areas with lots of plants and bulbs – but be sure to still keep a close eye on them while they’re outside. If you spot your pet eating a potentially dangerous plant, or they suddenly become unwell after being in the garden, contact your vet as quickly as possible.
Safe spring cleaning. “As well as enjoying changes outdoors, you may find yourself wanting to spring clean your home too – but it’s important to keep four-legged friends away from any toxic products.
Many household cleaners such as bleach, oven cleaner, dishwasher tablets and laundry detergents can be very dangerous for our pets -the harsh chemicals can cause burns to wandering paws and can even be fatal if ingested.
The good news is that there are plenty of pet-safe alternatives that are also better for the environment, such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice – using these will help you create a gleaming and fresh interior, without any dangers to your furry friend.
“If you do use stronger products, it’s essential to follow instructions and dilute where necessary.
Wipe down floors and surfaces with fresh water after using chemicals to ensure your pet can walk around safely, and don’t forget to empty any mop buckets as soon as you’ve finished.
Be sure to store products well out of reach – if your pet has mastered the art of opening door handles, it’s worth fitting a child proof lock on your cleaning cupboard!
Keeping away from Easter treats
“Humans aren’t the only ones tempted by a chocolatey treat or hot-crossed bun – our pets can sniff them out even when concealed in packaging. Having chocolate in the house can pose a real danger to our precious pets – it contains a substance called theobromine, which can be a substance that is life-threatening to animals if animals happen to consume chocolate.”
Ask our expert
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing answers all your pet questions
Dear PDSA Vet, my dog has started licking her leg quite a lot and it looks really sore, her fur has also started falling out. How can I help her? Amrita
Dear Amrita, firstly, make an appointment with your vet, who can check the sore area for any underlying issues or infection.
Problems like this can originate from an insect bite, scratch or other skin irritation – when your dog licks at the area it becomes even more sore and inflamed and can introduce infection, meaning your dog wants to lick even more.
This creates a vicious circle, so you need to break that loop of behavior - your vet may prescribe treatment to help. Until you can get to the vets, I recommend that you stop your dog from licking the sore skin by using a cone or neck collar so that she can’t reach and gently bathe the area with cooled, previously boiled water.
Dear PDSA Vet, how much exercise does my dog need? Is it better to give her one long walk a day, or several shorter ones? Shelby
Dear Shelby, exercise is essential to maintain a dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
Daily walks are a vital part of your four-legged friend’s routine, as not only do they get your pup moving, but being outdoors stimulates their brain – not to mention being a great form of stress relief.
The amount of exercise your dog needs depends on their breed, age and general health. However, just like humans, every pooch is unique and may have different preferences to others of the same breed, or different health considerations. Most dogs will need at least two walks a day, for those that struggle with exercise, short, more frequent walks will be better.
Dear PDSA Vet, my vet recently prescribed some tablets for my cat but he just won’t take them. I’ve tried disguising them in his food but he just spits them straight out. How can I get him to take them? Danielle
Dear Danielle, giving tablets to our pets is often easier said than done.
Ask your vet if the tablets can be given crushed in food - some tablets can’t be, or need taking on an empty tummy. When mixing with food, mix with a small amount only and one that is smelly, to disguise the smell of the tablets.
Give before his main meal, when he’s hungry - make sure he eats it all to get the full dose. It’s really important to complete any course of medication and follow any instructions to ensure it works correctly. This helpful video shows how to medicate your cat, alternatively your vet may advise an alternative, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/givingyourpetatablet website.
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