Spring #1 2014 (Written by Pauline Larsen)

artworks-000043018258-o5c78s-originalThe calendar officially proclaims that IT’S SPRING, and hopefully the long, bitter weather is behind us. Spring is a great time of the year, and both humans and canines are ready to feel the warm sunshine, with grass on the ground instead of ice and snow. However, spring brings hazards for our companion animals, who are restless from being cooped up, and are eager to shake off the blahs of winter.

  • There are new smells and new places to explore which means that normally well-behaved dogs will suddenly become escape artists and dig or climb their way out of their safe yards to find themselves lost with no clue about returning home. Please be sure that you have up-to-date identification on your dog. We also recommend micro-chipping your animal.
  • In spring, depending on your dog’s breed, you can expect more shedding as the coat changes. Consistent daily brushing is necessary, and remember, in a pet lover’s home, a few dog hairs can be classified as condiments! (I doubt anyone ever died from a dog hair in his soup!)
  • If you have an intact pet, he will really become restless. The alarming statistics of unwanted offspring and animal overpopulation should convince you to spay or neuter, and it is also important to do it for the health and safety of your pet.
  • Spring is a good time to schedule a wellness check. Hopefully the vet will give her a clean bill of health, but if something suspicious is found, perhaps it can be treated in the early stages. Most dogs have teeth problems by the time they are three years old, and since tooth and gum disease can lead to more serious problems, be sure to include a dental checkup for your canine.
  • We used to believe that heartworm was a problem only in the Southern states. Not true. This mosquito-borne parasite is a definite threat to your animals, and while it is true that heartworm can be treated if caught early enough, the treatment is harsh and is also expensive. Get your dog tested for heartworm and on a preventative provided by your veterinarian.
  • Don’t wait until you see a flea to begin treatment…fleas are more than a nuisance, and bother your dog with more than allergies and itchy skin, and by the time you see one, you have an invasion of these nasty little creatures. If a flea swallowed by your dog contains tapeworm larvae, the dog may get tapeworms, and other diseases may also be transmitted by the fleas. Once your dog is infested, the problem extends to the home and yard, and is more difficult to treat. The smart thing to do is to treat your animals BEFORE fleas are present. There are many safe products that will eliminate flea problems. DO NOT use over-the-counter products…many are toxic. Discuss your options with your veterinarian.
  • It is equally important to protect your dog (and you) from ticks, which can carry and transmit several diseases including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Fever. Again prevention is much easier than treatment. Some products are effective against both fleas and ticks. Again talk to your vet about preventative measures, and how, by consistent implementation of relatively easy strategies, you can protect both humans and canines in your household from these unwelcome parasites. Controlling and eliminating fleas, ticks, and parasites require energy, time, and money. The best control is always prevention.
  • If you use herbicides or pesticides on your lawn, be sure to restrict your pets from the treated areas for at least 24 hours, preferably longer. These chemicals are toxic to your pet.
  • By taking just a few precautions, spring will be a fabulous time for both you and your dog!

A day in spring is one thing, but a spring day is another. The difference between the two is sometimes great!—Henry Van Dyke

Larsen can be contacted at Paw Prints, Box 373, Newell, Iowa 50568 , or by e-mail at plarsen@rconnect.com

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