Don't be sprung by Spring pet dangers After the winter chills, many of us will be itching to get out and enjoy the sunshine with our pets. But with it, the warmer weather brings a list of dangers, lurking in places you might not expect. From mild allergies and pesky grass seeds to life-threatening snake bites and stings. Allergies Like us, cats and dogs can suffer from environmental allergies, and Spring is peak season for pollens and grasses. Some pets react with red eyes and runny noses, so pay attention if your pet starts sneezing. Far more common are skin irritations from allergic dermatitis, which usually shows up on their feet or the hairless areas of their bellies. What to do: Watch out for inflamed areas and unusual rashes and monitor how much your pet scratches itself so you’ll notice if something changes. Ask your vet for topical antihistamine creams or lotions to apply if needed. Grass seeds Grass seeds lodged in your pet’s skin can lead to a range of issues, from pain and swelling, to more severe problems like pneumonia and bladder infections. The most common areas affected are the paws, head, neck, eyes, nose and mouth. Often seeds are snorted up by dogs and can migrate elsewhere in the body. A grass seed that enters the skin of the paw, for example, may find its way to another area under the skin—or even into your pet’s organs. The Animal Hospital at Murdoch in Perth sees around 2-5 dogs each week for grass seed issues during spring and summer. Just last week, a dog required open-chest surgery to remove a grass seed suck in his lungs, which would have been so stressful and expensive for the poor owner. What to do: Prevention is always better than cure, so check your pet weekly, and keep their fur brushed and clipped to a manageable level. Snakes Snakes start to move around more as the weather warms up, so if you live in a snake-prone area now may be the time to take precautions. The Animal Hospital at Murdoch University in Perth reports seeing between 12 and 25 dogs and cats per season with life-threatening snake bites. To help make sure your pet isn’t one of them, cut long grass in the backyard and get rid of any rubbish, such as leftover timber or garden cuttings, which could make an appealing home for our scaly friends. When you walk your dog, keep them on a leash unless you’re sure the area is safe, and watch they’re not exploring areas of thick bush or grass. Some of the common signs of a snake bite are: Sudden weakness followed by collapse. Shaking or twitching muscles and difficulty blinking. Loss of bladder and bowel control. Dilated pupils. Blood in urine. What to do if you suspect your pet has been bitten: Contact your vet straight away, even if it looks like they’re getting better. Minimise movement in your pet to stop the spread of venom, and try to keep them as calm as possible. More tips here. Garden risks Any type of fertiliser and bait (snail, slug, rat) can be toxic to dogs and cats. There are also poisonous plants like many types of lily, while garden mulch often includes a by-product of cocoa power or other chocolate products, which can be toxic to your pet. More info on garden dangers here. What to do if your pet ingests poison: take your pet, and a sample of what you think they may have eaten, to the vet immediately. Bee stings Stings are common in Spring—mostly around your pet’s mouth and feet—and their reaction can vary greatly. Mild signs include swelling, scratching rubbing, licking or chewing at the sting. Severe signs include profound swelling, hives, vomiting and difficulty breathing. What to do if your pet is stung: remove the sting if possible and contact your vet for advice. If your dog has a known anaphylactic reaction to stings then talk to your vet about getting an Epi-pen.