Spring offers you and your pet the perfect opportunity to get outside in the garden and enjoy nature. Spring is also the perfect time for planting bulbs and plants. However, be aware there are many natural dangers in the domestic garden that could prove fatal to your pet. Here’s more about them and tips to avoid them.

Spring bulbs

Dogs being poisoned by eating spring bulbs can occur in autumn when the bulbs are planted, or in spring when they begin to flower. As a precaution, keep bulbs in a sealed container only removing them individually when you are ready to plant them. Keep a close eye on your pet and your garden, so you can quickly spot if they may have dug one up and tried to eat it.

Daffodil bulbs – look out for signs of poisoning such as vomiting, stomach upset or drooling. Dogs can also appear drowsy, unstable or collapse. In severe cases, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature can all be affected and in some cases, causing fits.

Dogs can also be affected in a similar way, if the daffodil flowers are eaten, or even from drinking water from a vase of daffodils.

Tulip bulbs – contain toxins which irritate the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Your pet may drool, vomit or have diarrhoea. In rare cases serious problems such as heart issues and breathing difficulties can occur.

Hyacinth bulbs are similarly toxic to your pets.

Spring crocus – the bulbs that flower in spring are thought to be less poisonous to dogs and could potentially cause only mild stomach upset if eaten.

Slug and snail bait / poison

You may be keen for your new seedlings and plants to thrive and not be eaten by slugs and snails. However, be aware metaldehyde, which is commonly found in slug/snail baits or pellets, is incredibly dangerous for your pet. Metaldehyde poisoning is extremely serious and usually fatal without urgent treatment.

Dogs may initially appear unsteady on their feet and twitchy, but may rapidly deteriorate, suffering continuous seizures and difficulty breathing.

Harmful plants

Spring is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs but being aware which plants are safe for your dog can save you trouble later.

Many decorative plants are toxic. The Prunus species, which includes apricots, nectarines, damsons, cherries, plums, peaches and cherry; may be pretty but they are poisonous. It is the stones or seeds of these fruits which contain cyanogenic glycosides. When broken down by enzymes, this produces hydrogen cyanide. Symptoms of this poisoning in your pet includes dilated pupils breathing difficulties and sudden death.

Other plants to be avoided are:

Aconitum

Amaryllis bulbs

Asparagus fern

Azalea

Cyclamen

Daffodil bulbs

Day lilies

Delphiniums

Foxgloves

Hemlock

Hyacinth

Hydrangea

Ivy

Laburnum

Lily of the valley

Lupins

Morning glory

Nightshade

Oleander

Rhododendron

Rhubarb leaves

Sweet pea

Tulip bulbs

Umbrella plant

Wisteria

Yew

Plants can be checked through the Royal Horticultural Society or by asking your local florist or horticultural nursery.

If there are any hidden chestnuts or acorns left over from autumn that your dog comes across, be aware that both can be poisonous to your pet.

Conkers – all part of the horse chestnut can make your dog ill, causing sickness, drooling and stomach upsets. And being large and spherical, conkers can also pose a choking hazard to your dog.

Acorns – can make your dog seriously ill causing him to vomit or be sick, both of which can contain blood. Acorns can also be a choking hazard, while eating large amounts of acorns can cause an obstruction.

Mouse and rat poison that is anticoagulant (eg Warfarin) based

If a dog eats rat poison, or consumes a rat or mouse that has been poisoned using an anticoagulant rodenticide such as Warfarin, they will be affected by the poison and it can make them extremely ill and could prove fatal.

Compost

Make sure any food scraps are safely sealed in a container your dog cannot get into. Compost is often comprised of mouldy foods that contain toxins, which could make pet unwell. One toxic culprit commonly found on mouldy bread, nuts and dairy products can cause seizures and muscle tremors in your dog. Your compost could also contain foods which could be poisonous to your dog (click here to read our article on human food and drink which is poisonous to pets.)

Wild mushrooms or toadstools

Depending on the fungi ingested, signs of poisoning can span from stomach upset, blood in the stools or vomit, to neurological effects such as hallucinations or fits, sadly right down to kidney or liver failure.

Symptoms can occur suddenly – minutes after being ingested – or be delayed, only appearing days later.

If you suspect your dog has ingested an unknown wild mushroom, take them to the vets immediately. Ideally take along a sample of the fungi in a paper bag or wrapped in paper, never a plastic bag.  Take a photo of the fungus and make a note of the area where it was found, such as in a beech wood or birch wood, on the ground or on a tree stump; it can help it to be identified to establish whether it could be poisonous for your pet.

Toads

Toads become more active as it gets warmer. Curious pets may pick the toads up or bite them. However, venom secreted from glands on the toad’s skin can cause irritation in your dog’s mouth. If you see your dog pawing at his mouth, in pain or drooling then do investigate further. If severe, your dog may appear disorientated or suffer from increased breathing or fits.

As toads feed on a diet of slugs and snails, this can be a source of lungworm for a dog.

How to respond if you think your dog has eaten something poisonous?

Always contact your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested anything that could do them harm.

Never watch and wait. Many symptoms can take hours or days to manifest and by that time it could be too late. 

Always take the packaging and any remains of what has been eaten with you to the vet.  This will help them to estimate just how much has been ingested.  The vet will also be able to establish exactly what it was and work out if there is an antidote.

More help is also available from the Animal Poison information line 01202 50 90 00

Good to know

Don’t try and make your dog sick as this can sometimes cause other complications, which can also make your dog unwell.

Get your free copy of our e-book on how to help your dog if they are poisoned, click here: https://firstaidforpets.net/free-ebook-help-dog-poisoned/

First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

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