Pets: beware bird-seed

Warning...Laura Gerard with Bracken and a bird seed ball. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001402-95)
Warning...Laura Gerard with Bracken and a bird seed ball. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001402-95)

A STARK warning has been issued by a dog owner after her pet cocker spaniel fell seriously ill after eating bird feed.

When nine-year-old Bracken came down with sickness and lethargy, his owner Laura Gerard rushed him to an emergency appointment at Harborough’s Ash Tree Vets.

Bracken was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis – a painful and potentially life- threatening condition in dogs.

But it was the cause of the illness which really shocked Mrs Gerard – he had eaten the remnants of fat balls dropped by birds in the garden of the family home in Victoria Avenue, Harborough.

Mrs Gerard told the Mail: “I felt shocked and very guilty, as I had brought the feed into the garden.

“Apparently this is a very common cause of pancreatitis in dogs, yet after more than 20 years of dog ownership I was unaware of this risk to my dog’s health.

“Having passed the warning around among dog-owning friends, I have yet to come across anyone who knew of the danger, which is alarming.”

Vets at the practice, in Northampton Road, explained to Mrs Gerard that the high fat content in the balls is extremely toxic to dogs.

And keen to warn other dog owners, Mrs Gerard contacted the Mail.

“Thankfully Bracken is now on the mend after several costly visits to the vets,” she said.

“Though he will now need to follow a life-long fat-free diet to reduce the chances of the condition recurring.

“For all those of you who have dogs, be warned – feeding the birds could be risking the life of your beloved pet.”

Gavin Drummond, a partner at Ash Tree Vets, told the Mail: “It’s important for people who use fat balls to make sure they are securely tied when they use them, and to make sure they are stored out of reach in a container.

“Many people think that dogs can eat anything but it’s not true.”