For pets, the return of spring often means longer walks and snoozes in the sun. But the end of winter also brings new dangers for dogs. Parasites, illnesses and allergies all come with the new season.
So to protect your dog's health, it's important to be aware of them and to know how to look out for your pup.
We've brought together the top 8 things to be vigilant about during the spring so that your dog can safely enjoy the warmer weather.
1. Be careful of moth caterpillars
Moth caterpillars are the biggest danger facing your dog in the springtime.
They are found all over the UK and US.
The fur covering caterpillars irritates the skin and they can cause serious sores to the nose or tongue.
If a tongue infection caused by a caterpillar isn't treated soon enough, a dog's tongue can become septic and may even need an amputation.
If the fur is inhaled, it can also affect the lungs.
If your dog eats a caterpillar, he will experience severe abdominal pain and will begin to salivate and vomit.
Caterpillar nests are found in or nearby pine trees.
If you let your dog play nearby these trees, be sure to check that there is no nest there.
2. The return of ticks and fleas
Fleas and ticks can be found all year round but the return of warmer weather means they become more numerous.
Just one flea can lay up to 50 eggs on your dog each day.
The bites are uncomfortable, and can also lead to injuries from forceful scratching.
Fleas can also be transported by larvae and transferred to your dog.
It's important to treat your dog for worms as well as for fleas.
Source : CliniqueVétérinaire
Ticks are rarer but even more dangerous for your dog. Mainly in found forests and shubbery, ticks can cause anaemia.
They also carry potentially deadly parasitic diseases such as Lyme disease, Texas Fever and Ehrlichiosis.
To avoid these, check your pet's fur after their walk.
3. Leishmaniasis: a potentially deadly disease
Leishmaniasis is a disease transmitted by a parasite. It can infect both dogs and humans.
The disease can have a dramatic impact on an animal. It is, however, a canine disease that can easily be avoided.
The disease is spread through a sting from a sand fly. The sand fly deposits parasites into the skin when it stings.
These parasites then latch onto a dog's white blood cells and then onto its main organs.
This illness is particularly difficult to diagnose because it can take several years to develop.
When the symptoms are obvious (such as weight loss, hair loss, skin complaints), they can be treated, but it is impossible to completely cure the disease.
If left untreated, Leishmaniasis is fatal for dogs. However there is a vaccine which can protect your dog, and fly repellents also lower the risk of your dog becoming infected.
Another way of avoiding it is to keep your dog indoors at night, because this is when sand flies bite.
4. Gardening products and toxic plants
Spring is the time to return to the garden – your dog's favourite place to play. But it can also present some dangers.
For example, certain plants are highly toxic to dogs.
This includes lilacs, tulips, lily of the valley, daffodils, philodendrons, rhododendron, fig trees, oleanders, dumb cane, giant taro, cyclamen flowers and jade plants.
If your dog eats one of these plants, he will suffer from poisoning and will begin to vomit and have diarrhoea. He may also show signs of irritation in the throat. A serious poisoning can cause heart failure or even a coma.
Caution is also necessary with gardening products. Weed-killers, slug poisons, moss-killers and insecticides are all highly poisonous.
If you have recently used any of these products don't let your dog near your plants – even the non-toxic ones.
Be particularly cautious of moss-killers, because dogs like their sugary taste.
5. Don't let your dog play with toads
Spring is mating season for toads. They therefore spread themselves around pathways in search of water to mate in.
A curious dog might be tempted to play with a toad if he comes across one during a walk.
However, toads secrete venom to defend themselves. If you dog catches one, he risks being badly poisoned, because once taken in through nasal mucous venom can make its way to the heart and nervous system through the blood.
The symptoms of a toad poisoning are the same as those from plant poisoning.
In case this does happen to your dog, rinse your dog's mouth (he mustn't drink any of the water you use to rinse it) and contact your vet.
6. Dogs get allergies too
Just like people, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergies in dogs manifest themselves through excessive licking, more scratching than usual and widespread hair loss.
If one of these signs appears, don't hesitate to contact your vet. It's possible to get antihistamines adapted to dogs.
If, in additional to these other symptoms, your dog has scabs – especially around his head – it's possible he's suffering from eczema.
This severe allergy can be a reaction to dust, mites, pollen or even your dog's food.
Eczema affects between 10 and 15% of dogs. Breeds such as boxers, Shar-peis and Dalmatians are particularly susceptible.
7. Watch out for grass plants
Seed heads of grass plants such as wheat can be particularly dangerous.
When a dog brushes past a plant, a dried seed head can hook onto his skin.
Once attached to your dog's skin, the seed head can bury down into the skin.
It can also get into yours dog's nostrils, eyes, ears or genitals.
In this instance, veterinary assistance is required. To avoid these seed heads, check your dog's fur and sensitive areas when you come back from a walk.
8. Beware of Easter chocolates
Much like Christmas, Easter is a time for celebration. And a big part of that is eating lots of foods which are toxic to dogs.
Chocolate is one of the most dangerous.
For example, for a dog weighing 20kg (around 45lbs) just 60g of chocolate that's more than 50% cocoa is enough cause poisoning.
If your dog has eaten a large amount of chocolate, supervise them carefully. The first signs of poisoning appear between 4 and 6 hours after ingestion.