How to Prepare Your Pet for Spring
By Asha Gamble, Client Relationship Manager
Now that spring is upon us, it’s time for us to get a few things in order. We need to deep clean our homes, organize and put away our winter things and prepare our pets for the spring season. Why should we prepare our pets for the spring season you ask? Well, because most of us pet parents often forget that getting our pets ready for the warmer months is just as important. Here’s a few things to help you get started!
Schedule a Vet Exam
Your pet should have at least one exam a year. This exam is known as your pet’s “Annual Wellness Exam” and what better time to get this done than spring. Spring pet exams are the best times to ask your Veterinarian about heartworm awareness and how to avoid flea & tick infestations, how to keep your pet safe through rising temperatures, how to keep your pet free of intestinal parasites, the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet and how keeping your pet groomed in the warmer months lessen the risk of heat related illnesses. Since vaccinations are primarily due around the time of an annual wellness exam, your pet will receive a checkup at the same time to ensure your pet is healthy enough to receive them. At this time, you will receive a better understanding of your pet’s health and what you can do to ensure your pet continues to have another healthy year.
Although fleas, ticks and mosquitoes cause threat all year-round, infestations occur more often in warmer months. Peak breeding season for these particular parasites begins in early spring. But, can also occur in temperatures as low as 60 degrees. Not only are these parasites a nuisance and make our pets uncomfortable, they’re hard to get rid of and also transmit diseases to our pets. The best way to protect your pet is to keep them on parasite control all year-round, especially during spring and summer. Here’s Why.
- Fleas are a common parasite that feeds on blood causing your pet to itch and become very miserable. Fleas can cause lethargy, weakness and even death if not caught and treated in time. Common medical conditions and other infestations caused by fleas are flea bite dermatitis, tapeworms and anemia in puppies and kittens.
- Ticks, much like fleas, feed on blood and if unchecked can cause health problems too. Even when using preventatives to protect your pet against ticks, it’s still a good idea to check your pet after spending time outside. Ticks are very good hiders and have often been found deep in a pet’s ear canal. If you find one or more ticks on your pet, it’s best to give your Veterinarian a call and schedule an appointment. The longer a tick stays on your pet, the more likely that tick will transmit Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, tick paralysis, tularemia or Rocky Mountain spotted fever to your pet.
- We’re already aware of what Mosquitoes feed on from our own experiences. But with just one single bite from an infected mosquito, your pet may be at risk of developing heartworm disease. While there is treatment available for heartworm positive dogs, there is no drug safe enough to treat a Heartworm positive cat and is the reason why year-round parasite control is important. Nevertheless, cats with heartworm disease can often be helped with good veterinary care and a determined long-term management plan. Treatment costs for both dogs and cats are very expensive, so it makes more sense to just administor preventatives every month. On top of that, there are even bigger risks your pet can potentially face. Heartworm disease, if not discovered and treated quickly, can cause other damaging medical conditions to your pet’s heart and also it’s lungs.
Although heat stroke and dehydration caused by rising temperatures aren’t common concerns of the spring season, this is the best time to prepare for summer by educating yourself about the “DOs & DON’Ts”. PETA reported 113 heat related deaths in 2018 and 2019. Every year, PETA receives reports about dogs, cats, and other animals who have died after being left in hot cars or outside during the warmer months. Fifty-eight animals endured hot weather related deaths in 2018 alone, and those are just the ones that were reported. Here’s a few helpful tips to help you use your spring time wisely to prepare for summer.
Keep your pet well-hydrated: If you do not have a designated outdoor water bowl for your pet, this is the best time to start looking for one. Fresh drinking water must be supplied all day long, especially if the pet is outside.
Provide shade when outdoors: Although we all understand some pets enjoy being outside all day and do a pretty good job of making us feel terrible when we don’t, an air-conditioned house is the safest place for your pet during the warmer months. If this is not an option, the next best thing is a well ventilated dog house, a catio or a shaded porch with a fan or misting system.
Avoid high temperatures: Before planning your pet’s day, it’s very important that you always check the weather. If temperatures rise as high as 85 degrees, it’s best that your pet avoids long periods of time outside unattended. Be sure to keep your pet on a short leash for bathroom breaks to ensure your pet returns home safely. This will also help you act quickly if heat related illnesses occur.
Do not leave your pets alone in a parked car: When transporting pets, never leave them unattended in a vehicle. Not even for a few minutes! Cracking windows, short periods of time, relatively mild days, leaving water or running the air conditioner do not make a parked car a safe place for a pet to be alone. Although leaving the air on or leaving the window rolled down some seems better than nothing, certain breeds, your pet’s weight and age, existing medical conditions and other factors can still cause heat stroke in temperatures as low as 60 degrees.
Much like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, intestinal parasites cause threat all year-around. Intestinal parasites spread through the ingestion of contaminated feces and transfer from infected hosts to another. Intestinal parasites can cause tremendous harm to your pet’s intestinal tract if left untreated. What’s even worse, is you can’t see them and often won’t know your pet has intestinal parasites until symptoms show or until your pet receives a positive fecal result after an annual exam.
It’s extremely important to understand the risks going into the warmer months. The number of dogs visiting dog parks and the number of cats visiting your neighborhood will increase during the spring season. This means more friendly faces for your pet, but could also put your pet at risk. This is another prime example of why it’s important to keep your pets on parasite control all year-round.
Oral heartworm medications such as ivermectin with pyrantel pamoate and milbemycin oxime offer protection against roundworms, hookworms and whipworms (milbemycin oxime only) in dogs. For cats, Revolution can be applied directly to the skin once a month to protect against fleas, heartworms, hookworms and roundworms. For any pet exhibiting symptoms of diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, vomiting or worms in either one of these symptoms, please schedule a Veterinary exam and collect a stool sample for testing.
Spay/Neuter Your Pet
Let’s not forget what else comes with the spring season. Here comes the birds and the bees, frisky feelings and fertile dogs and cats. And although it’s always super satisfying to see a litter of puppies or kittens at their first examination receiving their first set of shots, millions of dogs and cats across the country will be euthanized, become victims of the elements, or be hit by cars because they cannot find loving homes due to overpopulation. This alone, makes it super important to spay or neuter your pet and even more okay to adopt a pet from a shelter instead. More than likely, your newly adopted pet will have already been spayed or neutered, saving you a lot of time.
It’s best to have your pet spayed or neutered at the age of 6 to 8 months, or as suggested in recent studies, at a year old. If you’re unclear of what age is best to have your pet spayed or neutered, schedule a Veterinary exam to discuss this with a Veterinarian.
Not only does neutering or spaying your pet avoid the risk over overpopulation, it also lessens the risks of reproductive related illness such as pyometra, breast cancer, prostate disease and testicular cancer.
Grooming: Coat Care is Health Care
Now that we’re done with spring cleaning and rid of our warned down winter coats, it’s time for our pets to do the same. With busy schedules and planning vacations for the spring and summer seasons, grooming our pets often gets pushed to the side. Keep in mind that this is the time of year your pet’s shedding increases. This is also a good time to be ahead of the game and get your pet’s grooming appointments booked in advance, especially if you know how out of control your pet’s shedding can be. As longer days and warm weather inspires us to get ourselves and our pets outside to soak up the sun, ensuring our pets are groomed and trimmed will decrease the risk of heat related illnesses ruining your fun time in the sun.
Have a happy and healthy Spring season from Rocky Gorge!