Spring is finally here! For those of us who live in cold, snowy climates, the warmer temperatures are a welcome change. Naturally, we all want to spend more time outdoors in the spring and summer when the weather is nice - and that includes our pets, too. Here are a few springtime health & safety tips for pets.
Many dogs shed heavily as the temperatures get warmer. Help them get rid of their winter coats by brushing them regularly. Brushing not only removes dead hair and tangles, it also stimulates the skin and distributes good oils throughout the coat. It also gives you the opportunity to find any lumps, bumps, or skin conditions you might not have otherwise noticed. A grooming glove is an option for pets who don't particularly enjoy traditional dog brushes, but note that grooming gloves won't get out mats/tangles or undercoats. Lots of dogs love to be brushed and it gives pets and owners a chance for some quiet bonding time.
Depending on where you live, some municipalities may lay down salt or other snow-melt chemicals during the winter. As water runs off (or some stubborn snow continues to melt), these chemicals can be present in puddles. Try to prevent thirsty pets from drinking from these puddles. Rinse off paws after an outing to remove any residual chemicals.
Not all areas are prone to these problems, but some definitely are, particularly as the weather gets warmer. Ask your vet for alternatives. There are heartworm pills or liquid treatments that are applied between a dog's shoulder blades, and there are more "natural" solutions (like shampoos) that may work as well. Your vet may also recommend a heartworm test to make sure your pet is free of heartworms prior to administering a preventive treatment.
If your dog got less exercise during the cold winter months, gently ease into a more active routine. Doing so too quickly can lead to injury or over-exertion.
Dogs can develop allergies to pollen, grass, mold, and other things just like people can. Allergy symptoms include itching, coughing, redness of the skin, flaky skin, and sneezing.
Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are commonly applied to green spaces, parks, and even on residential lawns. Many popular plants and bulbs are also toxic to pets, as is cocoa mulch, sometimes used in garden beds. Keep pets out of garden beds and out of public areas which have recently been treated with chemicals.
Look for things like burrs, seeds, tree sap, thorns, and other things that may be causing them discomfort. Dogs can experience a wide variety of paw problems, so check their feet often and thoroughly.
As temperatures continue to climb, it can get much too hot to safely walk a dog during the afternoons. Mornings and evenings are cooler. Bring water for your dog on walks, and carefully watch him for signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Getting outside for some fresh air and exercise is one of life's great pleasures, especially for dogs. Have a safe, fun, and active spring!
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace." (Milan Kundera)