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What are Spring Dangers?

Each season has its own pitfalls and hazards, and springtime is no exception. Encounters with other animals in the spring can be both more energetic and more antagonistic during this time of year.

Dogs are often restless, occasionally provoking fights with other dogs and attempting to escape the confines of their home and yard, and spring is when most wildlife mates and gives birth to their young, making them more defensive. Both insects and plants are more plentiful in the spring months leading to allergic reactions, and if your pet is unprotected, bites by fleas and ticks are also more common during the spring.

The spring season has its share of seasonal hazards, ranging from toxins to insect bites. Preventing the majority of the dangers of springtime can be achieved with a little extra awareness.

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Symptoms of Spring Dangers in Dogs

The symptoms that your dog is exhibiting will help to diagnose which danger your animal has been exposed to. Rashes and skin irritation are usually related to allergies or flea infestations, while gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhea or signs of central nervous system trouble such as loss of coordination or unusual pupillary responses may indicate that your pet has ingested something toxic.

  • Rash
  • Skin irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coordination loss
  • Changes in pupils

Types

Encounters with Other Animals

Encounters with other animals may be more problematic this time of year due mostly to two factors. Many dogs tend to be more excitable and restless during the spring months, and this can lead to misunderstanding and arguments when interacting with other dogs. Spring often signal mating season and the subsequent birth of the young for many species, which may encourage defensive behaviors in wild animals. 

Escape

The exciting sights, smells, and sounds of spring are not lost on our canine companions. These enticing factors can lead some dogs to escape the confines of their homes or yards, which can lead to car accidents, encounters with other animals, or simply the inability to find their way home. 

Ingested Toxins

All sorts of plants start to grow and bloom in the springtime, both healthy plants, and plants that can be very toxic. Even non-toxic plants can be a danger to your animal if they have been treated with certain fertilizers or pesticides. Toxic molds and mildews may also be more common this time of year, and can commonly be found in compost piles. 

Skin Trouble

Allergies and reactions to fleas are the most common reason for dogs to develop itchy and irritated rashes on their skin, although the sap of many plants may also irritate the skin.

Causes of Spring Dangers in Dogs

  • Allergies - Dogs can develop seasonal allergies to things like pollen and mold and mildew spores that are in the air, and allergies to insects may be more of a problem as the number of insects increases in the springtime 
  • Indiscriminate eating - Dogs tend to explore their world with their mouths and unfortunately, this can lead to your dog ingesting things that are not at all good for them; this can include toxic plants, compost, pesticides like slug and snail bait, or even rotting food or animals that were previously buried in snow
  • Restlessness - The sights, smells, and sounds of spring can encourage excitability and restless behaviors for many dogs; this may lead to shortened tempers, attempts to escape, and may stimulate an animal’s prey drive

Diagnosis of Spring Dangers in Dogs

The veterinary techniques and testing methods used to diagnose your pet will be dependent on the type of hazard that was experienced and the symptoms that are exhibited by the animal. Most visits to the veterinarian will begin with a thorough physical examination, which will typically include standard diagnostic tests, such as a urinalysis, complete blood count, and a biochemical profile. During the physical examination, your dog’s doctor will check to see if there are any wounds present and data regarding the animal’s breathing and heart rates may help to uncover any underlying disorders. 

The diagnostic tests will not only rule out any infections, but will also evaluate the health of the patient’s liver and kidneys and may reveal which if any toxins are in the bloodstream. The examining veterinarian may also choose to evaluate the dog’s blood gasses, and if there is any suspicion that the internal organs are involved, imaging techniques such as ultrasound and x-ray imaging may be utilized to better visualize the abdomen and chest area.

Treatment of Spring Dangers in Dogs

The treatment for the dangers that are more likely occur during the spring season will differ somewhat, depending on the type of hazard they have encountered. Many of these dangers will require veterinary care to correct. Canines that are in distress will be offered supportive treatments such as the administration of intravenous fluids, employed both to prevent dehydration and to allow the veterinarian to correct any imbalances that are found, and possibly supplemental oxygen if the patient is having trouble breathing. Treatments will vary from there depending on the circumstances and symptoms. External wounds received from wounds, bites, or scratches will be cleaned and treated, and dogs that have been bitten by a wild animal will also be tested for infections and given any appropriate medications to fight whichever infections or venoms are found in the system.

In the event that your dog has recently ingested a toxin, your veterinarian may choose to induce vomiting or perform a gastric lavage in order to expel as much contaminated material as possible if they are not vomiting up the substance on their own. Activated charcoal is also frequently administered to soak up as much of the remaining toxic material from the stomach as possible. Dogs that are experiencing allergies will typically be prescribed antihistamines, either in oral or topical form, and corticosteroids may also be recommended. Immunotherapy is another alternative for animals that are affected by unavoidable allergens, especially with reactions that are present for at least four to six months of the year and are resistant to antihistamines.

Recovery of Spring Dangers in Dogs

The prognosis for dogs that have been affected by the hazards of spring will be dependent on the danger encountered. Certain toxins that are commonly found in plants and molds at this time of year will induce only mild gastric upset and can be recovered from quickly, while others are fatal even with aggressive treatment.

While you can’t control which plants grow outside of your own property, ensuring that only non-toxic plants are kept within your pet’s reach in your either your garden or home will go a long way towards protecting their health. Extra exercise, chew toys, and toys designed to engage the mind will help to calm restlessness and keep your pet happy and busy.