Preventative Care: What Risks Pet-Owners Need to Watch Out For
With every season, different risks to pets arrive, and many pet owners may be unaware of the lesser-known risks to their furry friends. To provide a helping hand, the VisioCare Services myBuddy Team has put together a list of health risks – separated by season and animal – for pet owners to refer to if they are unsure.
Cats and Dogs
- Fleas, ticks and worms
Pests like fleas, ticks and worms are active throughout the year, however they start to grow in number around Easter time as the weather begins to warm up. As this time approaches, it is important to ensure your pet is up to date with their flea, tick, and worm protection medication, as well as checking them over daily for ticks and fleas. And remember to treat the environment if you have any sign of fleas!
- Poisonous food
Chocolate and hot cross buns are popular foods around spring and easter time and, although they are delicious to humans, they are poisonous to dogs and cats. Although it being common knowledge that chocolate is not good for dogs, some owners may not know how deadly grapes in all forms, can be for their furry friends. They can cause kidney failure, so it is important to keep hot cross buns out of reach!
- Fly strike
As the weather starts to warm up, there will be an increase in flies. Many are harmless, but the problematic flies are particularly attracted to damp or soiled fur which is often found at the rear of a rabbit. The flies lay eggs on the fur, and if left untreated, the eggs hatch and the maggots burrow into the skin, causing shock and death.
Prevent flystrike by keeping your rabbit healthy and regularly checking them daily – making sure any problems are checked on quickly by a vet. Sprays and liquids are also available to help prevent flystrike; these usually either repel flies or prevent eggs hatching into maggots.
- Spring Flowers
Although everyone may enjoy the sights of colourful spring flowers, the consumption of them by some pets can be extremely harmful. Some of the most common flowers and plants that pet owners should be aware of are ivy, buttercups, rhubarb, garlic, foxglove, tulips, dahlias, lilies daffodils, and hyacinth.
To prevent small furies grazing on these plants, provide a penned area for the pet to roam or keep a close eye on them if they are left free. If you feed your small pets with clippings from the garden, the most important thing to do is make sure nothing harmful has got caught in amongst the snacks.
Dogs and Cats
Aside from aiding the growth of bugs and bacteria, the hot weather can cause serious problems for pets. Dogs tend to be good at cooling themselves down, but it is important to make sure your dog doesn’t overheat when playing games, running or while being sat in the car. When the weather is hot, we recommend taking pets for shorter walks, as they cannot only suffer from heat stroke but sunburn as well. And don’t forget hot pavements and paws! When the weather heats up, it is important to remember that “if you can get sunburnt, then so can your pet”.
Fleas thrive in a warm environment, and with increasing trends of warm, but wet, weather, fleas survive longer which increases the risk for pets. Dog and cats should be up to date with their flea prevention medication, but if they do happen to get an infestation warning signs of fleas include increases itching and irritation. These can be treated by a vet, which will involve treating the pet and your home to remove any pests in the environment.
- Grass Seeds
Grass seeds caught in a dog or cat’s paws, ears or eyes is common during summer months. They easily get stuck under their coat and can penetrate the skin, causing irritation and negative side effects, including violent shaking of the head, rubbing of the eyes, and chewing at the feet. To prevent grass seeds getting stuck, trim the fur on your pet’s paw and around their ears, check between pads for grass seeds regularly and avoid meadows and woodlands where grasses commonly grow.
Just like with dogs and cats, rabbits can suffer from heatstroke. As the weather starts to warm up, it is important to be aware of the signs of heatstroke, including reddening and warming of the ears, moisture around the nostrils, rapid breathing, odd behaviour and fits. Crucially, if you do suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, submerging in cold water can worsen the situation and you should instead put cool water on the ears and take the rabbit to the vet immediately for treatment.
The risks are similar for all pets in the autumn months as fireworks become an issue for many pet owners. Reactions to sound sensitivities can range from mild to extreme and it is important to remember that a degree of fear is normal. Signs in dogs to look out for include excessive panting, drooling, shaking, hiding, excessive barking and soiling in the house.
For cats, the fear behaviours can be much less obvious but the warning signs to look out for are excessive grooming, house soiling, acting withdrawn and over or under-eating.
Small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs are even less likely than cats to show signs that they are distressed. However, this doesn’t mean that bonfire night isn’t a frightening time for them. Distress behaviours include stamping of back legs, restlessness or staying motionless, attempting to escape, grinding their teeth and aggression. Please speak to your veterinary professional team at least 3 months before firework season, so they can help with things like noise therapy programmes and products Like Feliway, Adaptil and pet remedy to name a few!
Slugs and snails can cause lungworm – regular monthly treatment can protect
Every dog owner will know how much most dogs love to explore, leading them to sticking their nose into and eating a variety of things. Whilst this won’t usually pose any risk, it can be dangerous if your dog ingests slugs and snails which could be carrying lungworm.
To help prevent your pet being infected by lungworm, bring toys and water bowls indoors at night and try to avoid letting your dog play with sticks. The signs of an infection include coughing, breathlessness, weight loss, reduced appetite and diarrhoea. If you detect any of these symptoms, speak to your vet about the use of combined veterinary only products in dogs that treats fleas worms and lungworm- prevention is better than cure!
Dogs and Cats
- Grit and salt
Although grit and salt is brilliant for preventing us and our pets from slipping and injuring ourselves, if not washed off it can makes the paws of dogs very sore. It can also make them ill if they attempt to clean it off themselves by licking it.
- Anti-freeze smells nice to cats
Surprising to most, antifreeze smells and tastes good to cats, and they will drink it if it is within their reach. It is important to keep this well out of reach of cats, and that any spillages are cleaned up straight away, as it is highly poisonous. If you suspect your feline friend has ingested anti-freeze, take them to the vet immediately to be checked.
- Christmas Decorations and wrapping paper
If your pet is one that likes to chew, make sure that wrapping paper and decorations are out of reach! If ingested, they can cause intestinal issues which can be seriously dangerous for both dogs and cats.
- Dropping temperatures
If your rabbit or other small furry is an outdoor pet, it is important that you provide them with a warm environment over the cold months, so you should be prepared to move them into a garage, shed or even in the house. As well as doing this, provide extra fresh and dry bedding to help them stay warm.
- Fairy lights
If you have a house rabbit, make sure that any fairy lights or electrical cables are out of reach. If they nibble through the cables this could not only cause ingestion problems but also poses an electrocution risk.
For more care advice, got to the VisioCare Service’s website at https://visiocareservices.co.uk/ or find more articles on the VisioCare myBuddy app.