Wanna go outside?!
Spring is right around the corner, and you know what that means – plenty of outdoor time for you and your dog! While the trees are budding and the flowers are blooming, there’s never a better time to get outside and enjoy the spring weather with your pup. From swimming in the lake to romping through the woods, there’s tons of fun activities you and your dog will get into. If you’re ready to enjoy the sunshine with your best buddy, you need make sure he’s ready for whatever fun lies ahead.
Watch the Weather
As spring comes along, the weather becomes volatile, with rain, wind, storms; and unfortunately cold weather sticks around for longer than we’d wish. And while fido seems indestructible, he’s just as vulnerable to the effects of cold weather as you are.
In the spring, you should be especially careful of mild weather when taking your dog out to play. Should he pass a river or lake on your walk through the park, he’s likely to jump in. In the early months of spring, the water is still much too cold for him to bear, even if he’s a breed built for swimming, like a labrador. Your dog may catch a cold – or worse, hypothermia – if he’s exposed to frigid water and cold air. While a lab or a retriever breeds have thick wooly undercoats and can control their core temperature in freezing waters, it’s important to remember that ears, paws, tails and noses are more prone to frostbite, especially when wet.
And if you have a short-haired breed, you should be especially careful in cold to mild outdoor temperatures. According to Washington State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, “For short-coated breeds like greyhounds, Boston terriers, and Chihuahuas, you might want to put them in a protective sweater before taking them outside. They will become chilled quickly after leaving a 72-degree house. Also realize, sweaters are not a substitute for shelter. They can get wet and actually remove more heat from an animal than they conserve.”
If your dog is shivering uncontrollably or appears to be in pain or is unresponsive from cold weather, take him inside to warmer temperatures and call your vet immediately.
Protect from Fleas & Ticks
As the weather warms up, you and your dog love to soak it up. Unfortunately, so too do fleas and ticks. While it’s practically impossible to completely avoid fleas and ticks outside, there are a number of steps you can take to try and minimize their interaction with your dog.
Fleas and ticks begin feeding and breeding as soon as winter ends, laying hundreds to thousands of eggs at once. This is bad news for your pup, as his coat is the perfect place to burrow in and start a nice, big, buggy family. From biting your dog, fleas & ticks can transmit tapeworms and several other infectious diseases, including the plague.
“Both fleas and ticks flourish in warm climates. The ideal temperature for these parasites is within the 70 to 85 degree range, but they can live in cooler and warmer temperatures as well. For many states, the most prevalent seasons for fleas and ticks are the spring and summer, or roughly from May through September. For southern and southwestern states, the flea and tick season typically occurs year round,” Says Madeleine Burry of Pet Care RX. So how do you guard your dog from these wingless external parasites known for their biting and blood-sucking abilities?
Wild warm-blooded rodents, such as squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, skunks, and even feral cats are a notorious harboring ground for fleas and ticks, along with the woods, grass, and brush. To prevent your dog from catching fleas and ticks, you should protect him and all pets in your household with a flea and tick control product. One untreated pet can lead to a flea infestation in the entire house.
If you’re suffering from a flea and tick infestation, extremely high heat will annihilate them as well as their eggs. Washing and drying your pet’s bedding and sweater, color, etc., will help eradicate any that have nestled into your dog’s fur. Likewise, it’s smart to toss your clothes in the laundry after being outside in a tick- friendly area.
A final way to eliminate the fleas and ticks around your house is to analyze your landscaping. Since fleas and ticks thrive in shaded, cool areas, minimize these areas around your home – under bushes, long grass, shady trees – trimmed up and under control. Dried out soil and direct sunlight leads to an inhospitable environment for fleas and ticks.
Seasonal Allergies & Poisonous Plants
The springtime warmth leads to wonderful colors, textures and shapes as the grass, flowers and trees bloom. And as the beautiful nature develops, so too do allergens and potentially dangerous plants.
Just like humans, dogs can be prone to the negative side-effects of seasonal allergies. A dog’s immune system can ingest an allergen that it dislikes and it will trigger an uncomfortable reaction like sneezing, swelling, infection and much more.
According to veterinarians Race Foster and Marty Smith, “There are many types of allergies that can affect your pet. Environmental allergens that are inhaled or come into contact with the skin can cause allergies known as atopy. Common sources are pollens, molds, and dust mites. Allergies that result from flea-bites are referred to as flea allergy dermatitis. Certain allergies occur from items your pet ingests, and are typically called food allergies. Contact allergies are caused by something your pet comes in direct contact with, such as carpet fibers, plastics, and other things. Contact allergies are less common than atopy and flea allergy dermatitis in pets.“
Allergy Symptoms Your Dog May Have
There are a number of symptoms to look for when understanding if your dog has seasonal allergies. Some of these include:
- Chewing his paws
- Constant licking of his flank (side) and groin
- Rubbing of his face and muzzle
- Swollen ears or long term ear infections
- Red itchy bumps or blisters on sparsely-haired areas of the skin and those exposed to the allergen such as the belly, feet, or muzzle
- Excessive scratching
- Fur loss (mainly seen in chronic conditions)
- Itching, especially face, feet, limbs and rectal area
- Yeast infections in ears
- Skin infections
Allergy Treatment and Prevention
To prevent and cure spring dog allergies, follow these steps:
- Wash away allergens on his coat and skin by giving him baths frequently. They make specially-formulated shampoo that will treat certain allergic reactions. This should soothe redness and itchiness.
- Clean his paws each and every time he comes into the house from outside. This will help prevent him from spreading any allergens and clean potentially damaging allergens out from under his feet.
- Clean and vacuum the areas of your house where your dog spends most of his time. Allergens are more likely to accumulate in these areas, keeping it tidy will discourage interaction.
- Keep your dog’s immune system healthy with Wapiti’s Mobility Supplement. Allergies are, simply put, a negative reaction within your dog’s immune system. A highly-functioning immune system will keep fido happy and healthy all spring!
Additionally, many dogs like to eat grass, but if your dog likes to gobble up other plants, you may need to get out your plant guide to see if they’re toxic to animals. Some native plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea or even death. If you have a big garden in which your dog roams freely about, take a look at the handy guide provided by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which provides a toxic plant guide.