Springtime Safety Tips For Dog Owners

springtime-safety-for-dogsSpringtime normally brings an increased number of cases to our emergency clinics.  Bright sunny days mean that people are out and about with their pets and we see more road traffic accidents, walking injuries, dog fight injuries, allergic reactions and occasionally cases of heat stroke.

Easter goodies

Remember that chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs, and hot-cross buns contain raisins, which can cause renal failure in dogs. Read more about human foods that are poisonous to dogs >

Spring plants and flowers

Watch out for poisonous plants. Species common at this time of year include lilies, daffodils, spring bulbs and azaleas.  If you notice any signs of poisoning such as excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, appearing ‘drunk’ or even collapsing – then contact your vet immediately.

The garden

Dogs love spending time in the garden.  Make sure that your garden is safe for your dog and be careful if you need to use any pellets, pesticides or other chemicals. Slug and snail pellets (Metaldehyde) is a common poison we see in dogs. The toxic compound is metaldehyde (not all slug pellets contain metaldehyde) and only small amounts of pellets can cause significant poisoning.  Avoid using cocoa shell mulch, it is toxic to dogs (contains the same ingredient as chocolate). Read more about pet proofing your garden.

Wasp and bee stings

Most cases of wasp or bee stings are not emergencies.  With a bee sting, check and remove the sting if it is still in place, then bathe the area in bicarbonate of soda (one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 300ml warm water). With wasp stings bathe the area with malt vinegar or lemon juice.

If your dog is stung in or near the mouth or neck then you may need to seek veterinary help. Dogs, like humans, can be allergic or become allergic to stings. Signs include swellings, distress and breathing difficulties. 


Make sure your dog is up to date with his vaccinations, flea and tick medications as this is the time of year fleas and ticks start to increase in number.  


Just like people, dogs and cats can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses, and many other substances in springtime. Allergies in pets normally appear as itchy skin and ear problems, accompanied by hair loss or inflamed skin. Some pets will even change their behaviour due to irritation.  Some will suffer respiratory symptoms or runny eyes.


Be aware of which “human foods” are dangerous to your dog, and make sure your guests know the rules too. If you are having a barbeque, make sure your dog is kept at a safe distance from the hot barbecue and remember that party food is not for pets - make sure you keep food and drink out of paw’s reach. Kebab skewers, alcohol, corn on the cob and bones are particularly dangerous BBQ hazards for your pet.


  • If you are going to let your dog off the lead make sure you are in a safe environment.  Ensure your dog is well trained (especially the recall and wait/stop command), under control and within your sight at all times.  Even the best trained dog can be spooked and run off, so ensure your dog is wearing a collar, ID tag and ideally is microchipped (don’t forget to keep your contact details up to date).  This will make it much easier to reunite you with your pet if they do become separated from you.
  • Be careful not to overdo it.  Increase the length of your walks gradually to build up your pet’s fitness.  Avoid heat stroke, which can be fatal.  Be aware of the temperature and do not walk your dog in the heat of the day.  Ensure your pet has access to shade and plenty of fresh clean water.
  • DO NOT leave your dog in the car for even a minute on a sunny day. At 25 degrees Celsius, dogs in hot cars begin to pant excessively within 2 minutes and can die in less than 15 minutes.

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more
about what to do in an out of hours emergency.

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