The arrival of spring is a welcome change for many – longer days, warmer temperatures, and more time outside. But did you know the shift in seasons can also affect your pets and how you care for them? Here are a few things to keep in mind as spring comes roaring in like a lion!
How can I keep my house and yard safe for my pets this spring?
Your house should be a safe place for your pets, so it’s important to be vigilant about what they’re exposed to. When spring cleaning, keep any chemicals out of your pet’s reach. Also watch out for toxic plants and foods that are common this time of year--from lilies (which are especially toxic to cats) to chocolate bunnies (the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is).
Speaking of bunnies…some pets will need a little extra supervision outdoors to keep them from interacting with young wildlife that may be vulnerable this time of year. While some pets are only curious about bunny nests or fledglings learning to fly, others have a stronger prey drive that is hard to tame. To keep everyone safe and happy, it’s best not to let pets mingle with wild critters (especially skunks!)
When you’re preparing your yard and garden, keep your pets in mind. Many cleaners, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides are toxic and should be kept well out of reach. Give chemicals the appropriate amount of time to absorb on the lawn before letting your pets outside and wipe off any products that get on their paws. Remember that products intended to eliminate pests such as mice and rats are flavored to attract them, and pets will gobble up the bait too if they find it. The ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center offers great information on common household toxins.
What medical considerations should I keep in mind?
While spring brings forward wonderful new life, it also marks the beginning of flea and tick season. These sneaky pests can easily catch a ride and set up residence on your pets or in your house if ignored! Ask your vet which flea and tick preventative is best for your furry friend. It’s also the time to have your dog heartworm tested and continue to give a monthly heartworm preventative. Even indoor dogs can get heartworm disease if a mosquito sneaks into the house. Prevention is the best approach when it comes to heartworms since treatment is hard on your pet and your wallet. Preventative products do a great job if used as directed.
As the weather is changing, so are the allergens your pet will encounter. Environmental allergies are actually much more common than allergies to food. If you notice increased scratching, infections, licking, head shaking, or sneezing, talk to your vet to see if your pet might be experiencing environmental allergies. They might benefit from medications to ease the signs of allergies, and treatment is often more effective if you catch them early on.
You might also find that the amount of food your pet needs to maintain their body weight might change this time of year. Depending on your specific climate and pet, these amounts can go up or down. If they spent a lot of time out in the cold, their calorie needs may decrease as the weather warms up. If their activity level is increasing, they may need a few extra bites to hold their weight steady. Feel free to chat with us if you want to talk through any changes you are noticing in either direction.
What else should I remember with the extra outside time for my pets?
With the temperatures getting warmer, remember that your pet will need time to adjust. When playing outside, walking, or running, gradually increase exercise to avoid muscle soreness or injuries. Offer plenty of water and cooling breaks to avoid overheating. If your pet is looking hot or tired, it is best to play it safe and let them rest. Your pet will often push themselves too hard since they are having such a great time. Don’t be afraid to step in and advocate for your pet, even if that means cutting playtime short. This is also a good time to check in with your vet if you notice they are more challenged than you remember from past years.
It’s also common for pets to shed more with a seasonal temperature change, so it’s a great idea to take them to a groomer or brush them a little extra during this time. This is especially true for cats, who often get hairballs from grooming themselves.
As the days grow longer and summer approaches, we want to remind you that it’s not safe to leave your pet in the car, even with the windows down. The temperature inside the car can quickly increase to fatal levels within minutes, even if it’s not that warm outside. Sometimes what is pleasant to us may be too warm for our friends who wear their coats all year long.
Lastly, with more outside time, it’s always a good idea to make sure your pet’s microchip registration is up-to-date and they have a tag with your current contact information in case they run off. Most people will want to help reunite your pet with you, and this information helps so much in ensuring your pet makes it home safe and sound.