The days are getting longer, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and you and your pup are ready to take advantage of all that spring has to offer. Before you hit the trails or the doggy parks, make sure to take the following steps to prepare your dog for spring.
Update Your Dog's Shots and Preventives
Now that the weather is getting warmer, you'll probably be taking your pooch out for more walks and maybe a few yappy hours and visits to the dog park. If so, take your dog to the vet to ensure that it is up to date on all its vaccinations. Don't forget to let your veterinarian know if you'll be walking your dog in areas frequented by wildlife or where ticks are common. Your vet may suggest that your dog receive the leptospirosis and/or Lyme disease vaccines.
Spring is also the time to make sure that your dog is current on its pest preventives. While you should be practicing flea and tick prevention for dogs year-round, some owners let their guard down in winter. If you were one of these owners, it's time to get your dog back on its preventives. If you have a puppy, though, make sure to consult with a veterinarian before giving it any medications. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), you should not start flea and tick prevention for puppies until they're at least seven to eight months old.
Stay Ahead of Dog Shedding in Spring
Many breeds develop thick coats during winter that they will shed in spring. This is especially true of double-coated dogs, such as Samoyeds and Akitas. These breeds will "blow" out their undercoats in large clumps of fur twice a year, including spring. That's why springtime dog grooming is especially important. Spend at least 15 minutes a day brushing and removing the dead fur. This will help minimize the number of fur tumbleweeds you'll find around your house.
Be Ready to Deal With Mud
April showers bring May flowers ... and a whole lot of mud. Don't be surprised if bath times for your pup become more frequent during the spring months. Spring is also when a lot of homeowners fertilize and use weedkillers on their lawns. Wash your pup's paws off if you suspect they may have come in contact with these dangerous chemicals. To make bath time easier on both you and your pup, keep the following items in a handy location:
- Dog shampoo: According to the AKC, human skin has a different pH balance than dog skin. That's why using a human shampoo on a dog can dry its skin, which could lead to rashes, itching and even infections. For your dog's well-being, the AKC recommends that you invest in a shampoo that has been formulated specifically for canines.
- Brush or comb: Use these tools to remove any mats or tangles in your pet's fur.
- Dog towel: Yes, you could use an old bath towel to dry your pup, but once wet, it becomes cumbersome and hard to handle. A better idea is to invest in the lightweight towels upon which many groomers rely. These super-absorbent towels will reduce your pup's drying time, wring out easily and won't tangle long fur.
Get Rid of Mosquito Breeding Grounds
Spring is also the beginning of mosquito season. These little pests breed and lay their eggs in stagnant water. This season is a good time to take a stroll around your yard and get rid of anything that could hold water. Mosquito control is essential. These nasty insects can transmit several dangerous diseases and parasites to your pooch, including heartworms and West Nile virus.
Keep Your Dog Safe During Spring Cleaning
Spring is the traditional time to give your home a thorough cleaning. Unfortunately, many cleaning products can be harmful to your pooch. Look for pet-friendly versions of your cleaners and, if that's not possible, secure your pet in another room while you're using cleaning products. Then, when you're done with the products, store them well out of reach of a curious canine.
Of course, the most important tip for spring is to take advantage of the usually mild and pleasant weather with your pup. It's probably one of the best seasons of the year to explore your local trails or engage in other outdoor sports with your furry best friend.