VET’S VIEW: Gardens can pose risks to dogs

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IT’S a jungle out there! With the recent good weather we’ve had, I’ve been taking the opportunity to enjoy my garden, which for me means a little bit of gardening, followed by reclining in my deck chair with a cold drink!

However, our dogs have a very different agenda: there are so many interesting smells out there and like toddlers, their means of exploring is to put everything in their mouths.

Fortunately, very few plants are dangerously toxic, and those that are, like foxgloves for instance, are usually sufficiently unpalatable to deter most dogs.

However, many plants can cause stomach upsets if digested, and you can find a useful list of ones to watch out for on the Dogs Trust website.

Often, we are the cause of the problem. Weed-killers are a potential danger, although most are safe once they’ve dried on the plant, but slug bait is a particular risk to dogs; if you have to use it, apply the pellets sparingly, never in clumps, and do consider some of the other, more natural, methods of control which are kinder to wildlife, too.

Many puppies will find the slugs and snails an interesting gastronomic experience in themselves, but they harbour lungworm, which can cause potentially fatal haemorrhage, and we strongly recommend a regular worm treatment with a spot-on or tablet to protect your dog.

Foxes are an increasingly common sight in our gardens, but they can spread mange, an intensely itchy skin condition, so again, a regular parasite treatment will help prevent this.

Itching can also be a sign of plant allergies: unlike us, dogs do not seem to respond so well to antihistamines, so you may need to seek your vet’s advice if the itching is severe. It can all sound a bit alarming, but most of the time I suspect our dogs enjoy the garden as much as we do, and while I’m not looking they’d probably enjoy my drink as well.