As the weather gets warmer in the spring plants and fungi begin appearing and adders emerge from hibernation. Garden lawns may be treated with fertilizers and moss killers to improve their growth. Chocolate is also available in abundance around Easter.
The adder is the only native venomous snake in the UK. With the rise in temperature during the months of March and April the snakes emerge from hibernation. They are not aggressive but will
bite if provoked. The venom can result in rapid swelling around the bite with pain, lethargy and collapse. There is also the risk of more severe signs. The adder is a protected species so leave it where it is and do not attempt to catch it – this is not allowed and is dangerous
Chocolate contains a chemical that dogs do not tolerate well. White chocolate is generally not a risk but milk chocolate and even a relatively small amount of dark chocolate can cause agitation, excitability, tremors, convulsions and heart problems. Easter eggs and other chocolate products are often very attractive to dogs.
Fertilizers, including bonemeal, are commonly used in spring and autumn and, although of relatively low toxicity, they can cause gastrointestinal upset and irritation to the skin.
HOT CROSS BUNS
These contain raisins or sultanas. Ingestion of even a small quantity of dried fruit can cause severe kidney failure.
LAWN FEED, WEED AND MOSS KILLERS
These generally contain fertilizers (see above), weed killers and ferrous sulphate (iron) to kill moss. All the chemicals are irritant and can cause gastrointestinal upset, and there is also the risk of iron poisoning which can result in severe gastrointestinal signs, shock and liver failure.
MUSHROOMS AND TOADSTOOLS
Fungi produce their fruit bodies (mushrooms and toadstools) in the autumn when the weather is wet and mild. Some fungi cause gastrointestinal signs, while others can cause hallucinations and behavioural changes; however some are extremely toxic and can cause delayed kidney and liver failure. There are thousands of species and they can be difficult to identify without expert knowledge. If your pet has eaten a mushroom and there is some left, take photos of it (including photos showing where it is growing and the underneath of the mushroom, as there are features on the underside that are important for identification) and then dig it up and take it with your pet to your vet. If your pet vomits and there are remnants in the vomit – collect this, taking care to protect yourself. If you handle any suspect fungi ensure you wash your hands.
Pets may chew or eat spring flowers that appear as the weather becomes warmer. These include snowdrops, crocus, daffodils and tulips which may be growing in the garden or be available in the
home as cut flowers. In general these cause gastrointestinal upset and some animals may require treatment to control vomiting and replace lost fluids.
• Call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000 even if your pet is showing no signs to find out whether a trip to the vet is required.
• Remove your pet from the source of poison.
• Do not try to make your pet vomit – NEVER give salt water.
• Collect the poison and take a sample/container with you if you are advised to take your pet to the vet practice.