Spring is finally here! Trees and flowers are starting to bloom, baseball season is starting, and the temptation to spend more time outside is growing by the minute.
If you are like me, spending time outdoors includes my favorite canine companion. Exercise, fresh air and sunshine can be beneficial for both you and your dog. However, as we head outside it is important to keep a few seasonal health tips in mind.
- Protect against fleas, ticks, and mosquitos – Not only are they annoying pests, they can cause serious health problems for your pet. Fleas can cause dogs to be itchy, creating the potential for flea allergy dermatitis and hot spots. Additionally, fleas can transmit intestinal parasites. Ticks can spread dangerous infectious diseases including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever; mosquitos transmit heartworm disease. Trimming back shrubs and tall grasses, and keeping standing water at a minimum can help control the presence of these pests in the environment. Your veterinarian can recommend appropriate flea, tick and heartworm prevention solutions for your pet.
- Be ready for seasonal allergies – Pets can suffer seasonal allergies to dust, mold, pollen, grass and other environmental irritants. Veterinarians refer to this condition as atopy or atopic dermatitis. Signs of atopy include watery eyes, excessive itching, scratching, chewing, licking and grooming. Ears, muzzle, paws, groin, and in areas between the toes are most commonly affected by this condition. Regular grooming, especially after time spent outside can help reduce exposure to allergens. Rinsing eyes with a sterile eye wash can also help pets be more comfortable. If seasonal allergies become a chronic problem or the itching and scratching becomes uncontrollable, consult with your veterinarian on ways to manage your pet’s allergies.
- Groom your pet regularly – With more daylight and warmer weather, pets will start their seasonal shedding. Regular brushing will help control shedding and reduce allergens in the environment. For cats, grooming will help minimize the likelihood of hairballs.
- Start exercise slowly – If you and your dog have been laid up with the cold weather and less active than normal this winter, gradually ease back into activity this spring. Muscles will have lost strength and joints will have reduced flexibility. Starting slowly, including warm up and cool down periods will help rebuild your pet’s strength and endurance. Additionally, it is always a good idea to check paws for any scuffs or cracks, especially after time on pavement, as pads may be tender from the layoff. Keeping pads clean, dry and moisturized can help your pet stay active and comfortable all season long.
Hopefully these tips will help keep your pets healthy and active this spring. Ranger and I will be hitting the trails as soon as it stops raining. We hope to see you out there!