Spring Health Tips for Your Dogby Kathy Green • April 16, 2015
The longer warmer spring days are welcomed by dogs and their owners alike. A return to more frequent and lengthened walks and frolicking in the park. But as always, with the return of the warm weather, come issues of safety that responsible doge owners need to address.
Mosquitoes: With the heat mosquitoes become more plentiful and active. Bites from this insect can not only cause itching and irritation but also transmit heartworms, a potentially fatal disease. It takes the bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae to give your dog heartworm disease. Heartworms in dogs are easy to prevent, but difficult and costly to cure. Heartworm protection programs are readily available.
Ticks and Fleas: These insects become more prevalent in the warm weather as well. A flea infestation in your home is no joke. These insects bite humans as well as animals and these bites are extremely itchy and can become infected. Ticks are even more dangerous for your dog as they can carry Lyme Disease, This bacterial inflection causes severe joint inflamation and lameness. More serious complications include damage to the kidney and on occasion the heart and nervous system. Dog owners need to be very vigilent about checking for ticks on their pets. Ticks are typically found around the head, on the ears, neck, chest and forelegs although they can be found anywhere. They need to be removed careful with tweezers and with gloves on.
Infectious Diseases: Dog to dog contact increases in the spring and continues on into the summer months. Your dog is exposed to more infectious diseases during this time of year. Many veterinary clinics start to see increased numbers of kennel cough in the spring because of increasing dog-to-dog contact. Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.
Cleaning Products: One spring ritual is "spring cleaning" and many of these household cleaning products are just as toxic for our dogs as they are to us. Store all cleaning products away when not in use and consider using natural, organic cleaning solutions when possible. if one of these poisonous products is ingested, seek emergency veterinary care immediately. Do not induce vomiting!
Garden Products: A reason to keep your dog out of the garden is fertilizer which often smells like food to dogs. There is a wide variety of fertilizers, but they typically contain varying amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous with insecticides and herbicides as common additives. Restrict access to newly-fertilized gardens and garden sheds or garages where fertilizer is kept and keep the packaging as a reference just in case. Use an organic, pet-friendly alternative if available.
Plants: Gardening season is here! It is exciting to see bulbs breaking through the ground-- adding colour to gardens. That said, we need to be aware of the potential dangers spring plants can be for our pets. Some of the most toxic spring plants are tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, lilies, crocus and lily of the valley. Reactions to eating these plants range from stomach upset and diarrhea to kidney damage and respiratory failure. If you’re not sure what plant your dog has eaten, bring your pet to their veterinarian immediately for care. Signs may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days.
Allergies: Spring allergies in dogs can be classified into two categories: atopic allergies and flea allergies. Atopic allergies are allergies that cause a skin reaction from an inhaled allergen, such as pollen, house dust or mold. Flea allergies are caused by the dog’s body having a reaction to a protein in flea saliva, and it only takes a single flea bite to set off a reaction in a sensitive dog. Canine spring allergy symptoms can include itching, scratching, and biting and chewing on the legs and paws. In more extreme cases, hair loss and hot spots may develop as your dog continues to scratch at his skin. Your dog may also sneeze, cough or have watery eyes. Some dogs find relief from their itchy skin symptoms with more-frequent baths. Your veterinarian may recommend medicated shampoos or topical sprays that can help soothe your dog’s itchy skin.
With awareness of potential hazards and vigilance in caring for your canine, you can enjoy a fun and invigorating spring with your buddy, celebrating all that spring has to offer.