With the end of a chilly Winter in sight, the countryside springs into new life, from new-born lambs to birdsong as we wake. It’s only natural that we all feel reinvigorated in Spring, and our dogs are no different. The clocks go forward and suddenly long evening walks are back on the agenda, as is exploring the garden with a new set of sights and smells that come with reawakened wildlife. But with this renewed enthusiasm for adventure come some very real hazards for an over-exuberant canine.
Always at your service, we have put together some tips to help you keep your dog safe and out of mischief this year!
Leaping lambs in springtime don't half look like play buddies to many dogs. So who can blame them for wanting to join in the fun? The trouble is that the lambs, their ewes as well as the farmer aren't likely to agree. While you might think your dog is harmlessly joining in the game, sheep are a prey species and don’t much enjoy a game of chase with a member of the predator group.
So it is easy to see just where sheep worrying gets its name. Then there are those dogs whose high hunting drive has a tendency to get them into tricky situations. With dog attacks on sheep being in the thousands every year, you as an owner could well find yourself in hot water too, so it’s important to know the law.
The law holds any owner and/or person in charge of a dog to account in the event of a sheep attack or worrying. What’s more, the law permits farmers to destroy a dog in certain situations. Because dogs can be unpredictable, even those with the best of manners, it is always sensible for their own safety as well as that of livestock, to avoid letting them run free with sheep.
Green-fingered dog people out there, take heed. We're sure you'll be excited to tend to your flower beds as soon as you can do so without freezing your fingers to the bone. Your dog will enjoy spending time in the garden with their human too. So when sprucing your beds with additives and fertilizer, spare a thought for curious noses who might try a little to taste, just in case it’s a previously overlooked treat. Many fertilizers contain a whole host of components that can seriously harm your dog and symptoms range from running eyes and stomach upset right through to drooling, seizures and eventual death.
Slug-bait too! Metaldehyde is an ingredient common in slug-baits that causes serious risks to our companion animals, with symptoms including severe and intractable seizures, that often result, tragically, in death.
Of course, the array of flowers that come to life, as if to mark the end of Winter, are one of the greatest joys of Spring. Among the best of these visual delights are daffodils, tulips and other bulb-based plants. The trouble is that some dogs, not least young, over-excited pups, tend to wholeheartedly agree! For some, flowers are too tempting not to tamper with but if ingested can cause vomiting diarrhoea and even cardiac arrhythmias.
The skin of the bulb is likely to be the most toxic, but it’s best to avoid letting dogs use any part of these plants as a plaything. Bulbs also present a risk of surgical operation if swallowed whole... better to spend your money on tennis balls!
Sweet treats tend to be in abundance in springtime what with the hangover from Easter meaning that chocolate and raisin-based treats fill the supermarket shelves, and then our cupboards for many weeks thereafter. Theobromine in cocoa is poisonous to dogs and any of our vets will be able to tell if your dog has ingested a toxic amount.
Raisins, however (and all grape products), exert a far more unpredictable effect on dogs and sometimes just a tiny amount is enough to cause dire consequences for a pooch. Either way, seek veterinary advice ASAP to give your pooch the best chance and keep those hot cross buns to yourself.
You should treat any poisoning of your dog very seriously and seek veterinary attention immediately, preferably with details of the plant or product and its ingredients for the best outcome.
Of course, we should be excited about springtime, and the inevitable adventures just waiting to be had. So armed with this knowledge, get out there and make memories with your canine companion!