Dangers for dogs in the springtime

Spring is a great time to get out in the garden or take those long walks which you've missed out on during the dark, cold winter months. However, there are some hidden dangers for your dog which you may not be aware of. We've compiled a list of things to look out for in your four-legged friend if they have been hurt or poisoned.

Plants to avoid

Your pooch doesn't know this, but there are poisonous plants which he or she should avoid at all costs.


As pretty as they might be, if eaten they can prove fatal. All parts of the daffodil plant (Narcissus poeticus) are toxic. Signs of Daffodil poisoning include diarrhoea, vomiting and staggering.

Tomato plants

Another very common plant which is not generally known as being toxic. The stem and plant contain a compound that can cause serious gastrointestinal problems in dogs.


The leaves are toxic and if eaten by a dog can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, trembling and breathing difficulties. Other potentially poisonous garden produce include pear pips, onions, garlic, grapes and potato peelings.

Chocolate, Raisins and sultanas

Every Easter, veterinary surgeries are inundated with dogs who have poisoning due to eating chocolate eggs and cakes. Despite their enthusiasm to share your treats, keep chocolate, raisins and sultanas well away from your dog, no matter how delicious we all find them.

Bee and wasp stings

Dogs will generally react to bee and wasp stings in the same way we do - irritated but, in most cases, not deadly.

However, stings around the nose, mouth or throat can cause your dog breathing problems and should be treated immediately. Difficult when your pet's main form of defence is to catch buzzing insects with their teeth.

How to treat stings

A bee’s sting will lodge in the skin and should be carefully removed by scraping it away using a credit card or similar so that you don’t accidentally release more venom – do not use tweezers.

Wasp stings are more painful and they can sting many times. Once the sting has been removed apply a cold compress immediately – crushed ice/peas wrapped in a tea towel.

Bathe the area gently using a diluted vinegar solution for wasp stings and use a bicarbonate of soda solution for bee stings, to neutralize the sting. Close observation is vital.

Call vetfone for further advice and support if you're in any way concerned. Like humans, some pets have an allergic response to the chemicals in the sting. Signs of a severe reaction include weakness, difficulty breathing, and swelling extending away from the sting site.

If your pet is having a severe life threatening reaction, you should quickly contact a vet.


The thought of licking a toad isn't something we would entertain, but for some dogs, and cats, a lick is one of the first reactions they'll have to something new.

When toads feel threatened they excrete a thick, milky venom which contains a cocktail of toxins which cause a variety of symptoms in your pet.

Look out for irritation to the lining of the mouth, causing hyper salivation and frothing which could be associated with pain in the mouth.

In severe cases this can lead to vomiting, shaking, lack of coordination, rapid breathing or rapid heart rate, high temperature, fits, collapse, coma and thankfully very rarely, death.

To treat - the mouth should be washed immediately and flushed with water (providing that the animal is not convulsing or unconscious). Try not to let your pet swallow this water.

Any pet showing signs of more than local irritation to the mouth may need supportive treatment from the vet.

Again, ring vetfone to ask their advice if you're at all concerned.


Adder venom can be fatal, so if you suspect that your pet has been bitten, put a cold compress on the wound and take them to the vet immediately. As a bite affects normal blood clotting, try not to move or stress your dog unnecessarily, as this will increase their heart beat, moving the venom through their body quicker - if possible, carry them. While most vets don’t have access to anti-venom, they can give supportive treatment.

You'll find adders in dry areas; sand dunes, cliff tops, on the edge of woodland, moorland and rocky hillsides, and you'll recognise one from its distinctive diamond backed marking. They wake from hibernation in spring and can be seen basking in the sun from March to October. Adders will normally only bite when provoked; your dog will have smelled the snake's pungent odour from a long way off, and will be inquisitive.

If bitten, you'll probably hear a yelp firstly. There can be a number of symptoms, depending on the age and health of your pet, plus how dormant the adder had been before the bite. These range from pain and swelling, which can spread and be severe, to bruising, salivation, diarrhoea, vomiting, restlessness, drowsiness, depression, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, pale gums, shock, convulsions, collapse and death.


One thing which has been on the increase in recent years is the lungworm parasite.

Now widespread throughout the UK, it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with whether the parasite is common in your area.

Slugs and snails carry the larvae, and it's all too easy for an inquisitive dog to swallow one while poking about in puddles or grass - in fact, simply licking their trails can be enough.

While all breeds and ages of dog are potentially at risk, it's simple to protect against infection.

Find out how to take the necessary regular preventative treatment by asking at your vet or pet shop.


As part of our pet insurance cover, you can have free access to vetfone - a helpline service manned by RCVS nurses 24 hours a day offering advice and support for you and your pet.

Information about how to contact them will be in your policy documentation.

Much of the information within this article was supplied by vetfone.

Originally published on 02/04/2013

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