Bugs, Bites and Bothers

25/05/2018

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home's Education Officer, Daniel Tipping, has been a busy bee putting together his top tips for dog and cat owners as spring starts to bloom. In his third article, he covers the insects and other animals that can pester our pets in the warmer months.

Spring Advice for Dog Owners

Insect puns really bug me.

Longer days, warmer nights, and an abundance of flowers of every colour imaginable. Visually stunning for us - but the spring time blooms mean a feeding frenzy for smaller creatures!
The sudden appearance of this vital food source, combined with the warmer weather brings the bugs out en force. While most won't cause much bother (short of flying in to our eyes or open mouths!), others come with stings or bites that can be equally as annoying to our pets as they are to us.

Which insect struggles to make up it's mind? A may-bee!

Dogs are naturally inquisitive, so we can only imagine that a buzzing bumblebee can be quite exciting to investigate. To the bee though, seeing a giant, slobbering ball of fur coming in for a sniff must be a little frightening - it's little wonder so many stings on dogs occur on the face.

Signs your dog might have been stung include the obvious swelling, as well as whining, drooling, or pawing at a specific area. Like humans, dogs can also have severe reactions to bee and wasp stings, and until they're unlucky enough to experience a sting we won't know how they'll react. As such, every sting should be considered seriously; anaphylaxis can quickly cause breathing difficulties, swelling of the throat and more. If you suspect your dog has been stung, don't panic, but be sure to contact your vet as soon as possible - they'll be able to advise you what actions to take.

The team at BarkPost have put together a comprehensive article about bee stings here

How do fleas get from place to place? They itch-hike!

Any pet owner knows that fleas are a common problem for pets. Left untreated, they can cause a lot of bother (especially as they can end up on us, too). However, fleas are easy for detect - keep an eye out for itching - and treatments are readily available. 

Ticks, on the other hand, can be more difficult to spot. Ticks are small, spider-like insects, generally oval-shaped, flat, and between the size of a sesame seed and a coffee bean (depending how much they've fed). They're most prevalent in grassy areas, which is often where they'll attach to their hosts. Beyond just a blood-sucking pest though, ticks are one of the most common carriers of infectious diseases, second only to mosquitoes.

Fortunately, there are a range of products designed to protect our pets from ticks - but as a precaution, we should always check over both our own skin and our dogs after walks in the countryside and grassy areas.

The Kennel Club have an excellent article with some great tips for avoiding ticks here

Which snake can't subtract? An adder!

While not naturally aggressive, Scotland's only venomous snake, the adder, can be extremely dangerous to animals. Much like a bee, curious dog going in for a sniff can cause an adder to feel threatened and ultimately prompt it to defend itself. 

Bites most commonly cause bleeding, swelling, and lethargy - and in rare cases more severe signs such as shock, breathing problems and organ issues.

When walking in an area known for adders, keep your dog close or on a lead. If they're bitten - don't panic, but where possible reduce their movement (by carrying them, if possible), and contact your vet immediately. Gladly, dogs are highly likely to make a full recovery when treated promptly.

Do note, adders are a protected species - it’s illegal to harm or kill them.

I'm so excited for spring that I wet my plants!

Spring time might sound very doom-and-gloom based on these articles - but as any pet owner knows, every season comes with it's own challenges and these shouldn't put us off enjoying all the great things they offer! Remember that if you're ever in doubt about something your pet has eaten, drank, or come in to contact with, get in touch with your vet - as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

The other two articles in this series cover safety around spring blooms, and safety around sheep. Click here for part one and here for part two.

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