Keeping your dog well is important all year round, but spring is a good time to review your pet’s everyday health. Dogs will start to spend more time outdoors, and it is the season when parasites increase in number. Do not forget to make a spring visit to your vet, too. Regular check-ups are important because your pet’s health can change very quickly, says veterinary expert Martha Wilson. Here are some healthcare essentials to consider.
1. Ticks and Fleas and Mosquitoes
Spring walks in long grass or woodland can increase the risk of ticks. This tiny blood-sucking parasite attaches itself to your cat or dog’s skin and must be removed straightaway. “Removing a tick safely is harder than it sounds,” explains Martha. “If you accidentally leave part of the head behind, you could cause an infection, so ask your vet to show you how to use a tick remover properly.”
As temperatures rise and insects start breeding at high rates, it’s time to ensure your animal is protected. Start by removing all stagnant water sources – AKA bug breeding grounds – from your property. Next, look for natural insect repellents rather than chemical spot-on treatments, which are harmful to his health. Finally, boost his immune system to offer an extra layer of protection from bug-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, malaria, and heartworm.
2. Build Up Physical Strength.
Each spring it inevitably happens: the first warm weekend appears and people think they need to make up for four months of inactivity. They take their out-of-shape, overweight selves with their out-of-shape, overweight dogs, and decide to walk five miles, hike up their favorite mountain trail, or play an intense game of catch or Frisbee. Whatever it is, it’s too much and somebody gets hurt. This is the time of year when human ER clinics see injured knees, backs, and shoulders and veterinarians see torn cruciate ligaments, strains and sprains, and a variety of aches and pains. Take it easy. Gradually build up your strength and stamina and understand your dog needs time to adapt as well. This is especially true in older pets. What is only four to six months to you is more like two to three years to them. And if you do overdo it, be sure and have your pet checked out immediately. The sooner you have even a minor injury checked out and treated, the sooner your pet can return to enjoying the season.
3. Get the Right Gear.
Today’s active pets can be better equipped than ever before. Having the right gear can increase not only the number of activities you can do with your pet but can also increase you and your pet’s enjoyment. High-quality harnesses, portable water bowls, and cool toys or even a raincoat are items every dog lover should have on hand. For the more adventurous, doggie backpacks, protective clothing and glasses, life vests, and water toys are available. Whatever your interests, the correct equipment makes the time spent with your pet pal that much more fun.
4. Spring Clean Responsibly.
As you hasten to clean out your garage and prep your yard, remember these activities may pose a risk to your pet. Many cleaning agents, fertilizers, pesticides, weed-killers, and even mulch can all be dangerous to dogs and cats. Last spring I had a client who accidentally left a container of liquid plant food out on her porch. Her cat drank some and developed kidney failure. Luckily, the cat survived, but it could’ve easily been much worse. Remember, our pets can’t read warning labels. Look out for your little ones as you go about greening your homes.
5. Check if Vaccines are Up-to-Date.
Another one to brush up on any time of year, staying on top of your pet’s vaccinations is especially important during springtime. Dogs are spending more time in the park with each other and are likely to come across some new puppy, or raccoon or squirrel, friends. Keeping their rabies, parvo, and distemper vaccinations up to date will help protect your pup from potentially deadly diseases. This is especially important if you own a small puppy, so be sure not to miss an appointment at the vet for a shot.
6. Arrange play dates.
Naturally the warmer the weather the nicer it is to be outside. However, keep in mind that dogs also are social creatures like humans who like to interact with their own species. Taking this into consideration pick up your cellphone call your friends who have canine companions and arrange a play date. These kind of activities for dogs are a wonderful opportunity to socialize and for you to take a break from running around with that frisbee.
7. Enjoy time together.
Ending on a higher note. Spring is the season when opportunities present at the doorstep by themselves. Friends, family, dates, vacations and other activities will always come up but always remember that your four-legged friend has much less time on this Earth than you do. Do not take your dogs’ love and loyalty for granted. Therefore, this would be the time to give your doggy a big hug, a treat and go for a walk.