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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Easter eggs and Daffodils can be toxic to your pet

We've all heard it, "Don't give your dog chocolate it will kill him". How true is it you're probably wondering. Do I have to rush him to the vets if he eats one of my Cadbury’s Cream Eggs?
The truth is chocolate contains a chemical theobromine that is toxic to dogs in sufficient quantities.
Nothing says Easter quite like chocolates and daffodils - yet these seemingly harmless seasonal pleasures are set to cause illness and even death among UK pets.
Many dogs, like us, enjoy the taste of chocolate and will happily eat it if they get the chance. When it comes to daffodils all parts of the plant are potentially dangerous, even the water these flowers stand in. The bulbs are highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if consumed.

The greatest chocolate danger is from the luxury brands intended for humans, that have a higher cocoa content making it much more toxic to pets. Just a small bar of dark chocolate could fatally poison a Yorkshire Terrier!
With daffodils, the main risk to pets is from the bulbs, as Nick Sutton, Specialist in Poisons Information at the VPIS explains: “Most of the enquiries we receive regarding daffodils concern dogs digging up and eating freshly planted bulbs.  Animals can become very unwell after eating the bulbs. Although this is the most toxic part of the plant, eating the leaves, flowers and even drinking the water can prove harmful.”

Chocolate poisoning facts:
  • Large amounts of chocolate can poison dogs and other pets due to the toxic effects of theobromine, a component of chocolate similar to caffeine.
  • The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appears within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion, and can last as long as 72 hours. 
  • Initial signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal tenderness and restlessness.
  • In severe cases there are fits, heart beat irregularities, coma or even death.

Daffodil poisoning facts:
  • Daffodil bulbs are the most toxic part of this plant. They contain chemicals called alkaloids and glycosides which are hazardous to pets. These chemicals are present in all parts of the flower, but most concentrated in the bulb.
  • The lethal dose can be as low as 15g of bulbs – this could be as little as just one bulb!
  • Even the water the daffodils stand in is toxic and can cause stomach upsets in pets if drunk.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Hedgehogs in March

Spring is here and hedgehogs are starting to wake from hibernation.  They will be sleepy and very thirsty and will head for the nearest water.  Although good swimmers many die in ponds because there is no way out for them.  By putting some green plastic coated wire netting down into (not across) the pond we can provide a ladder for them to use should they fall in. 

It is not only hedgehogs that are out and about but gardeners as well.  Whilst the hedgehog is the gardeners' friend the gardener is not always the hedgehogs' friend.  Many of the jobs we do in our gardens can affect and even harm the hedgehogs.  So please take care when tidying up, pulling down sheds (a favourite nesting site) and strimming long grass and brambles. 

Hedgehogs are not territorial; they tend to have home patches.  A females’ home patch will be just big enough to support her and her hoglets.  A males’ patch will be much larger in the breeding season as they wander long distances searching for females.  Once the autumn comes their home patches will become smaller.  So if you see a hedgehog on a regular basis in the springtime it is more likely to be a female.   If you are able to leave food out each night then this will encourage any females to stay around and eat your slugs and snails.  However males, as I mentioned above, will have other priorities and will move away – they are more nomadic in the breeding season.

The following are a few suggestions for feeding stations that can keep the food dry and deter cats from stealing the food.  Try a paving slab on bricks (leave a gap between 2 of the bricks as an entrance hole) OR a box with a small hole cut into it OR a large box upside down with a brick propping up one end OR a rabbit hutch with its door wedged partly open OR an upside down pet basket OR an upside down toy box with the hand holds cut away.  As a final suggestion, try to get one of those blue plastic mushroom boxes.  Cut a 5"x5" hole in one of the short sides so when the box is upside down the hole becomes an entrance.  Put the food at the far end and weigh the box down with a stone.  Sometimes a brick needs to be placed 4-5” away from the entrance so if a cat has tried to reach in with a paw the brick should make it more difficult.

To find out more about hedgehogs visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s web site at www.britishhedgehog.org.uk   Do remember that hedgehogs are nocturnal and usually only come out in the day when they are in serious trouble.  If you find a hedgehog needing help, or if you need more advice, call the BHPS on 01584 890801.