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Outdoor hazards for pets

Outdoor hazards for pets

Just like children, pets love to explore and try new things. Dogs and cats often explore by tasting, smelling, chewing and rolling on things that they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, many of the common plants, flowers & fruit that can be found in our backyards and local parks have toxins or seeds that can be very harmful to our pets.

When the sun comes out, so do the gardening tools and gloves. As many pet parents will know, some dogs and cats like to follow you and help out as you tinker around in the garden, while you work at the veggie patch. While spending the day at your local dog park or gardening in the sun with your pet makes for a great day, there are many outside hazards for your pet that you should be mindful of.

Toxic Plants

Many common weeds and plants are toxic for pets. Prevention by removing from your backyard and avoiding where possible is best, however, if your pet has ingested a plant from the below list (or you suspect that they have) bring them into your nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Always try to bring a sample of the plant for easier identification and treatment.

Toxic plants to watch out for in New Zealand include:

  •  Aloe Vera
  • Azalea/Rhododendron
  • Baby’s breath/ Gypsophila
  • Barley grass seeds
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Black nightshade
  • Carnations
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daffodils
  • Death cap mushroom
  • Foxgloves
  • Ipomoea/Morning glory
  • Ivy – the foliage is more toxic than the fruit
  • Karaka tree berries
  •  Lilies
  • New Zealand tree nettle (Ongaonga)
  •  Onions and garlic
  •  Rhubarb
  • Tomato plants
  • Tulips

It’s important to first check the safety of any plants before your pets have access to them. It is recommended to check what plants are suitable and safe for your home before bringing them inside or planting them in the garden. Cats especially need to be considered, since they can jump to high shelves. If your cat is a known plant chewer, you will probably be better off choosing imitation plants.

Karaka berry caution for dog owners:

Karaka Trees are a native found all over New Zealand. During the months of January to April, Karaka berries will ripen, turn orange and fall off the tree. These 2.5 – 4 cm long berries are very appealing to dogs, but also highly toxic and can be fatal if eaten.

Symptoms of Karaka berry poisoning may include weakness or vomiting, confusion, back leg paralysis and convulsions and may even cause death. These symptoms can be delayed by a day or two, so even if your dog isn't displaying symptoms yet or if you have any concerns that your pet may have eaten Karaka berries, please seek veterinary treatment immediately.

Karaka Berry

Compost, fertilisers & pesticides

Pets, in particular dogs, love investigating interesting smells in the garden, particularly when there are blood and bone fertilisers (ground animal products) or food smells in compost bins. Most fertilisers and pesticides contain chemicals that are poisonous to your pets. Mouldy food in compost bins can also contain harmful toxins.

Symptoms: Because there are a variety of fertilisers with different combinations of ingredients, the symptoms of ingestion may differ. These symptoms include; lethargy, vomiting or diarrhoea, excessive salivating, increased breathing & heart rate, muscle tremors or convulsions, abdominal pain and loss of consciousness.

If your pet is showing any of these symptoms or you suspect they have been exposed to toxins, make sure you contact your local Animates Vetcare clinic immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.

Rodent poison

Warmer weather brings the bugs out in force. Using poison to get rid of bugs or rodents poses a big threat to your pets. There are multiple chemicals in these types of poison that if ingested by your pet, can lead to neurological and other symptoms. While some brands of poisons and insecticides claim to be pet friendly, it is best to be cautious and check with your vet first.

Even if you don’t keep rat bait in your house, your pet might encounter it while snooping around your neighbour’s fence line, or prowling about the neighbourhood. Pets can get bait poisoning by ingesting directly or by eating a rodent that has ingested the poison.

Symptoms: Depending on what type of rat poison your pet ingested, the warning signs can vary. These symptoms of rodent bait poisoning include; foul breath, pale gums, rapid or difficulty breathing, vomiting with blood, nose bleeds or continued bleeding from small wounds, bruising, weakness, seizures or convulsions and lethargy.

If your pet is showing these symptoms or you suspect they have been exposed to toxins, it is vital that you take them to your local veterinarian immediately. If possible, bring a sample of the toxin in question or a package of the same type. Early identification and treatment results in a much better prognosis for your pet. The time spent trying to identify the cause can result in time lost on treatment.

Slug Bait

Metaldehyde is a common ingredient in slug bait which is extremely toxic to animals if ingested. Unfortunately, many pets are attracted to these baits due to the palatable ingredients. Poisoning is particularly common in cats, dogs and chickens.

Symptoms: Signs of slug bait poisoning are generally seen within a few minutes to up to three hours after ingestion. These symptoms can include; lethargy, vomiting or diarrhoea, increased breathing and heart rate, salivation, incoordination, muscle tremors or convulsions and loss of consciousness.

If your pet is showing any of these symptoms or you suspect they have been exposed to slug bait, it is vital that you take them to your local veterinarian immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop. If you have the packaged bait, take this along with you to show the vet.

Bee stings

The buzzing of a bee can attract your pet’s attention and their desire to investigate and chase. Unfortunately, this can result in a sting, which in most cases will cause swelling and temporary pain but is not dangerous. However multiple stings, a sting in the mouth or throat, or an allergic reaction will require a visit to the veterinarian for treatment. It is important that you monitor your pet after a sting and if concerned contact your veterinarian for advice.

Symptoms: Swelling is particularly dangerous for your pet. If stung in the mouth or throat it can block your pet’s airway making it difficult to breathe. A large amount of swelling that extends past the site of the sting can also indicate an allergic reaction. Other signs of a bee sting include weakness, difficulty breathing and extreme irritation; scratching at the site of the sting and pulling out fur.

If your pet is showing these symptoms or you are concerned about a sting take them to your local veterinarian immediately. If necessary, pull the stinger out by scraping it with a fingernail or stiff piece of cardboard. Avoid using tweezers as this can release more venom.

Fruit seeds and stones

While your fruit trees may begin to bear their seasonal fruit, it is important to remember that as fruit falls to the ground, your pets may have easy access to these fruits. The stones, seed and pits of many fruits can harm your cat or dog. For example; the seeds or pits in peaches, plums, apricots and cherries contain cyanide. This is highly toxic to both humans and dogs, but dogs are more likely to break down the stone or pip with their powerful jaws and release the toxin into their system. Stone fruit can also cause intestinal obstructions in dogs and fruits with hard stones can cause a painful tooth fracture if your pet bites into it.

Fruits to keep away from your cats & dogs include:

  • Apples (only the core and seeds are toxic, apple slices can be a nice snack)
  • Avocados
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines (flesh is not toxic)
  • Apricots (flesh is not toxic)
  • Cherries
  • Peaches (flesh is not toxic)

Gardening tools

Leaving your tools out overnight, or even when you pop back inside for lunch, can post a risk to the safety of your pet. Gardening tools can be sharp and pronged, making it easy for a pet to injure themselves. Even if tools are packed away, make sure they are put in a safe place that is locked and secure from your curious pet.

While prevention is always the best goal, sometimes pets can get into things they shouldn’t. Your first move should be to call your local Animates Vetcare clinic immediately for a clear idea of how serious the issue is and the team will advise you on the next steps to keep your pet safe and healthy.

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