With spring's arrival, you're probably going to spend more time outside with your dog. Now is the time to prepare him for the outdoors so the both of you can enjoy the spring and summer seasons. By taking note of the following summarized points, you can prevent or catch problems before they become serious (such as heartworm and parasite control, which are recommended as the weather turns warm).
Taking care of your dog is a year round responsibility. You should keep a detailed medical file on each pet to remind you when vaccines are due, when the last fecal sample was checked and what special seasonal events are required, such as a trip to the groomer or obedience training.
Parasites proliferate in warm weather. With a little planning and some medical help, your dog can be kept parasite free. Ticks, fleas, heartworms and intestinal worms are the primary culprits. Your veterinarian has medications available to prevent these parasites from infesting your dog and eliminate the parasites if already present.
For more information, please see the story Parasite Control.
There are topical and oral medications available to prevent and treat tick infestations. If a tick is found, careful manual removal with a tweezers or tick removal instrument is recommended.
For more information, please see the related story How to Remove and Prevent Ticks.
Preventing fleas is much easier than treating an already established flea infestation. Topical and oral medications are very effective in keeping your pet's flea problem to a minimum. If fleas are allowed to proliferate, the environment, home and yard, must be treated in addition to the pet.
For more information, please see the story Flea Control and Prevention.
Though common in certain parts of the world, heartworms are a preventable parasite. For dogs at risk of infection, based on geographical location and lifestyle, monthly oral preventative is strongly recommended. Since mosquitoes transmit heartworms, the risk of heartworm infection is increased in the warmer months.
For more information, please see the related story Heartworm Prevention in Dogs.
Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia are common intestinal parasites. At least once a year, you should have a fecal sample microscopically evaluated for these parasites. Early treatment can reduce the chance of serious illness. Currently, there are monthly medications available that help prevent some of these parasites from developing. Even if your dog is on medication to prevent parasites, annual fecal evaluation is still recommended.
In addition to parasite control, preventing contagious disease is also recommended. In the spring, dog parks become quite popular places. With this mix of dogs, contagious diseases are easily spread. Before embarking on that fun time at the park, make sure your pet is vaccinated. There are vaccines available to help reduce your dog's risk of acquiring diseases such as distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, kennel cough and rabies, just to name a few.
For more information, please see the story Vaccine Recommendations for Dogs.
Proper nutrition is essential in maintaining health. As the temperatures rise, some of our dogs become more active. With this increase in activity, more calories are needed to provide the necessary energy. If your dog is not as active and tends to get sluggish in the heat, reduce his caloric intake.
For more information, please see the story Feeding Your Adult Dog.
In the springtime, some owners of long-haired dogs choose to have them professionally groomed, trimming their hair even to the point of shaving. These owners feel that their dogs greatly benefit with less hair during the heat of the spring and summer. Other owners prefer to leave their dogs natural. In all dogs, routine combing and brushing is recommended. As the thermostat rises, shedding can increase. This leads to more accumulation of hair and mats and tangles can occur if your dog is not frequently brushed.
For more information, please see the related story Grooming Your Dog.
Exercise and Training
In the spring, outdoor activities tend to increase. Some people don't realize that after a long winter of being cooped up, exercise must be started slowly. Your pet is not prepared for long excursions outside. If your dog exercises too quickly, his muscles, heart, lungs and internal heat control cannot keep up. Be aware that due to this lack of understanding, springtime is the most common time for heat related illness, including heat stroke.
For more information, please see the story Exercising Your Dog.
The popularity of dog parks is increasing. When properly used, dog parks are great fun for you and your dog. Without appropriate preparation, dog parks can result in illness or tragedy. In addition to exposure to contagious diseases, dogs without proper obedience training can be a threat to other dogs. In an attempt to join a pack or play, some dogs become aggressive and a fight may ensue. Springtime is an excellent time to begin obedience training or take a refresher course. An obedient dog is a happy healthy dog.
For more information, please see the related story 12 Rules for Training Dogs.