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Tulips, Ticks and Other Spring Tips


Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home’s Education Officer, Daniel Tipping, has been busy putting together his top tips for dog and cat owners as we kick into spring. In the first of a three-part series, Daniel outlines potential hazards in the home when the spring flowers start to bloom.

On and off as the weather has been of late, the sudden eruption of flowers throughout Edinburgh can only mean one thing; spring has (finally) arrived!

After what felt like the winter that would never end, I’ve been only too excited to experience the tell-tale signs of a shift in season over the last couple of weeks – namely the new blooms in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the amplified birdsong throughout Edinburgh’s cycle trails, and (one or two) warmer days.

Though spring may be my favourite season, as with the winter it can present its own challenges for pet owners. Spring time blooms coupled with an animal’s natural curiosity can bring about allergies and illnesses. Warmer weather means more bothersome bugs, and freshly-born farm animals can cause major headaches for owners of hard-to-handle dogs.

With that in mind, over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a range of springtime specific tips for pet owners…

What Flower Grows in your Face? Tu-lips!

Most cat owners will know all about lilies and the toxic threat they pose to felines – but did you know there are many other flowers that can prove problematic for our pets?

Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, azaleas, bluebells and many more plants and flowers can spark a range of medical issues when consumed. These can be less serious lethargy or dehydration, to more serious vomiting, diarrhoea or heart problems. Symptoms can show within a short time, but can be subtle and hard to detect – meaning the best approach is close observation, especially when introducing animals to new environments for the first time. As well as plants, certain garden equipment, fertilisers and chemicals can pose risks too.

Many people love gardening and there are obvious enrichment opportunities in offering varied environments for our pets – but as with young children, animals aren’t always the best judge of what’s edible and what’s not. If you think your dog or cat has consumed something they shouldn’t have, always be sure to phone your vet – it’s best to err on the side of caution as symptoms can quickly worsen.

What Happens to Bees with Allergies? They Break out in Hives!

Pretty as the flowers may be, this time of year can be a nightmare for those with seasonal allergies.

Though it’s usually quite apparent when one of us is hit with a bout of hay fever, the symptoms can be more subtle in our animals. Be sure to look out for things like excessive itching, skin irritations, a runny nose or watering eyes, sneezing and coughing, as many of these can be signs of allergies.

In some cases, simply limiting your pets’ exposure to the trigger can be enough to keep on top of it. Other steps we can take to treat hay fever in our pets include regular baths with lukewarm water , dusting and hoovering regularly, and the use of air purifiers. These can all help to remove pollen and spores from their fur and environment.

Failing that, your vet may prescribe antihistamines, steroids, or in some cases may recommend a blood test to better determine the allergy.

What’s a Sheepdog’s Favourite Plant? A Collie-flower!

While an unending list of flowers and fertilisers to avoid might sound daunting, with the internet at our fingertips it’s never been easier to pick out pet-friendly plants. Not only are there countless options out there that are safe for dogs and cats, there’re many they’ll love having around the house too!

Catnip is safe and may bring out a playful side in your cat that you didn’t realise existed. Our pets have a much higher sensitivity to smell than their owners – herbs like rosemary are not only safe but can enrich their senses by offering a unique scent. Many types of mint are safe, and consumption may have the added benefit of fresh breath!

The spring can bring a range of new experiences and excitement for your pets, and while with any change of season it can present new challenges, with just a little research and some close attention it can be a safe and enjoyable season for the entire family.

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