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Pet Care in Spring: Expert Tips for Pet Owners

Spring is here, and pet care in spring can be different from other times of the year. Many aspects of spring are beautiful, but some can be problematic for your pet. Spring dangers are preventable, and this spring pet safety guide will suggest how to survive the season and thoroughly enjoy it with your pet.

Seasonal pet wellness

One of the first tips for spring pet health is that this season is an excellent time for your pet's annual visit to the veterinarian. Besides getting a thorough exam, discuss any due vaccinations, GI parasite and heartworm preventatives, and anti-flea and tick measures with your vet.

Pet safety during springtime also includes ensuring your pet's microchip information is correct and their ID tags are up-to-date. These identification methods are critical if your pet gets away from you in an accident.

Spring pet care essentials

In many locations, winter is cold enough to control fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. However, pet health during spring is challenging as your pets fall victim to the pests that arrive, eager to feast on your canine and feline friends. Flea, tick, and mosquito bites are irritating and itchy, but they also carry diseases that can be transmitted to your pets (and, in some cases, to people). These diseases include heartworm, Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and others.

Fortunately, protecting pets from springtime pests is easy. Some preventatives work well to kill parasites before they can cause disease in your pet. So, stock up on preventatives against parasites during that spring vet visit. Prescription products are more effective than OTC options. Spring is critical for pets to be on preventatives, but we always recommend year-round prevention.

While you're talking to your vet about flea and tick prevention, don't forget about heartworm. It is a very serious disease transmitted by mosquitoes, and the preventative is by prescription only. Your vet can dispense the preventative or give you a prescription to get it online or in a pet store. Most vets will recommend a broad-spectrum product to protect against fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. Also, consider the use of mosquito repellents around your home.

Below are some additional tips to help keep your pet safe during spring.

  • Use broad-spectrum preventatives year-round. The risk of fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes increases with the spring temperatures, but vets recommend year-round prevention.
  • Check for ticks. In the spring, dogs and cats may have ticks just from being out for a short while.
  • Pet and environment treatment. If you've had an infestation, ensure fleas and ticks are simultaneously managed on your pet and in their home surroundings.
  • Purchase a flea comb from your pet store and use it regularly.
  • Periodically inspect and clean bedding, looking for parasites.

Springtime allergies

Along with the beauties of spring, pets suffer from allergies that can leave your dog or cat scratching, licking, sneezing, chewing their paws, rubbing the face, or being uncomfortable with ear infections.

The types of allergies that usually appear or worsen in the spring are flea or environmental allergies (known as atopy), caused by environmental irritants such as pollen, grass, trees, dust, plants, and other allergens.

Tips to help manage springtime allergies

Fortunately, these allergies can often be helped quite simply.

  • Frequent bathing helps wash away allergens from your pet's skin and fur. Your vet probably has a specific hypoallergenic shampoo to recommend.
  • Wipe down your pet's paws after every outdoor exposure. Use pet-safe wipes your vet has or can recommend or a damp cloth. This can help prevent allergens from being tracked into the house.
  • Vacuuming regularly can help control indoor allergens. An air purifier can help as well.
  • Fatty acids such as omega-3 can help improve skin health, and healthy skin can be less susceptible to allergies.
  • If your pet has a history of developing allergies yearly, especially moderate to severe ones, the spring annual visit is the time to get on medication. That may be antihistamines (a class of drugs commonly used to treat allergies) or particular shampoos, or your pet may need something more substantial, such as allergy medication that comes in tablet form or as an injection. Treating early before the skin becomes infected from too much scratching is essential.

Spring grooming tips for pets

Grooming can also help with allergies. Brushing regularly removes the winter coat and prevents mats, which can be a home to skin parasites or lead to skin infections. If the mats are too advanced to remove, consult a professional groomer. Untrimmed nails can grow into the pads, so that's a must-do. As stated, a bath with a mild pet shampoo or even a hypoallergenic one can remove allergens from the skin. Sometimes, skin irritation can get so bad from allergies that your vet must prescribe a medicated shampoo and other treatments.

🌱Best vet-approved products for pet care in spring

Springtime nutrition for pet wellness

With the temperature change and the probable increase in activity, spring safety tips may include monitoring food portions to prevent weight gain. It's a great time to focus on healthy, fresh food from the spring harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables. Watch the treats during spring get-togethers. Easter can mean a lot of chocolate is around, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Hydration is just as important. Leave fresh water around the house in multiple locations, and always have water and available shade outside. Dehydration or heat stroke can happen quickly. If you are worried your pet is not drinking enough, add water to kibble or consider feeding some canned food.

Know the signs of dehydration
Dry/tacky gums, sunken eyes, prolonged skin-tent, and lethargy. Stay alert for these signs, and ensure your pet drinks more when warm.

Keeping your home safe

One of the first things people do when spring comes is to clean the home indoors and outdoors. It's very refreshing to have a thoroughly clean house, but along with that comes some dangers for your pets. Many of our most common household cleaning products are toxic to our pets. What to do?

  • Buy 'safe-for-pets' products. These days, they are more accessible than ever.
  • Even with the safe pet products, read the labels carefully. If it says children or pets should not inhale or have contact with their skin, move on.
  • Be careful how you store cleaning products. Don't just keep them out of reach — keep them out of sight.
  • Keep pets in well-ventilated areas and out of recently cleaned areas until they are thoroughly dry.
  • Indoors, ensure all electrical cords are out of reach, keep toxic materials out of reach and out of sight, and ensure any open windows have secure screens.
  • Outside, a pet may find toxic substances in the shed and garage. Be very careful where you keep antifreeze, pesticides, and gardening products.

Keeping pets safe during spring

Spring brings a beautiful array of blooming plants, but one of the most common springtime pet hazards is the possible toxicity plants can bring to your pet. Examples include:

  • Lilies are a big no for cats. Eating even a tiny amount can result in severe kidney damage. Some lilies can be toxic to dogs, although the effects are usually GI upsets.
  • Tulips have toxic substances concentrated in the bulb. Especially in dogs, eating them can lead to drooling, vomiting, depression, and hypothermia.
  • Azaleas belong to the Rhododendron family and carry toxins that can result in vomiting, weakness, diarrhea, coma, and death. Rhododendrons are also highly toxic.
  • When ingested, foxglove, oleander, and spring crocus also pose significant pet risks.

Keep the number for the animal poison control center and your vet handy. In the event of ingestion, time is of the essence. As you prepare your home and your pet for the spring season, don't overlook the importance of safeguarding their health with pet insurance, which is essential for ensuring their well-being all year around - even for household pets like indoor cats who may encounter unexpected issues or emergencies.

In case of emergency

ASPCA 24/7 poison control hotline (888) 426-4435. This is a number anyone can call, but there may be a charge. Many pet insurance companies have 24/7 pet hotlines that you can call if you have pet insurance. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline for $85. The number is (855) 764-7661.

Springtime strolls

The transition from winter to spring brings about a migration from staying indoors to spending much time outside.

  • Regularly remove pet waste
  • Consider flushing or biodegradable waste bags
  • Disinfecting your yard after pet parties with pet-safe products can be a life-saving battle against parasites and pathogens

Emergency preparedness

Hopefully, you will never need any of this, but accidents happen.

  • Learn the common signs of distress in your pets. Lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst are signs that something could be wrong.
  • Assemble an emergency kit for every one of your pets. Include medical records, your vet's phone number, a photograph of your pet, food and water, pet first-aid supplies (including bandages, antiseptic, a thermometer, and any medications your pet might need), and comfort items.
  • Familiarize yourself with emergency centers. Know the location and contact details of your nearest pet emergency center.
  • Being prepared means knowing what to do in an emergency. Consider taking a pet CPR and first aid course.

Safety tips for the adventurous spring pet

Consider these safety tips for all pets, not just the rowdy ones:

  • Secure fences and garden gates. Spring makes your pet more likely to want to explore.
  • Supervise outdoor time. Making sure your pet doesn't wander off or eat a plant they shouldn't is less likely to happen if you're watching.
  • Review the art of leash walking. Your pet may try harder than usual to chase after wild animals that come out in spring.
  • Rehearse basic commands. A solid recall can save a life. Practice and refresh your pet's training.
  • Consider a leash extender. For controlled freedom, a leash extender can give pets the illusion of liberty without the risk.
  • Select traffic-free routes. Stick to peaceful paths to minimize the risk of sudden scares and bolting into the streets.

Best springtime activities for pets

If it's not too hot, spring is a great time to get more exercise and have more fun:

  • Introduce new outdoor toys or bring out old ones that have been stored away
  • Organize play dates with other doggie friends or check out the dog park
  • Arrange agility training or take long hikes

Regional differences regarding spring

Depending on where you live, advice may be different. Below are the most common differences.

Weather. Fleas and ticks may not be seen until late spring in colder regions. In hotter regions, pests may survive year-round. Speak to your vet about your pet being on preventatives year-round.

Plant growth. If you have a cold season when plants don't grow, then you don't have to worry so much about toxic plants at that time. Be careful what locally-grown fruits you bring in during the spring and summer. Make sure they're not toxic to your pet.

Pollen. Track local pollen counts and minimize outdoor time for your pets in high pollen level periods. This is especially true if your area has a wide variety of plants. Know when common allergens, such as ragweed, tree pollens, and grass, are most likely present in your region.

Storms. If your region tends to get tornadoes or sudden heavy storms, ensure your family's safety, including your pet. Find out where your pet-friendly shelters are, and keep that emergency kit where you can find it.

High-rises. If you live in a high-rise with balconies and let your pet spend time on the balcony in spring, be sure to have barriers to prevent accidental falls. A bird flying by can be just the thing to make your pet want to jump.

Creeks and rivers. If you live in a region with waterways, practice your recall skills. Sudden access to water can tempt your dog. Many dogs like to swim, and they may jump right in.

Wildlife interaction. Stay with your pet if you live in an area with wildlife. Rabies or leptospirosis can be threats. There are other dangers, including parasites and nasty fights.

The threat of high temperatures

In many regions, spring is a time when the temperature fluctuates. Mornings can be cool, while the afternoons can become quite hot. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Even in the spring, when you may not think of temperatures getting hot in your car, they can. Don't leave your pet in your car.
  • There may be times of the day when the temperature is too warm for excessive exercise.
  • On a sunny day with hot temperatures, your pet can burn his paws. Walk on the grass.
  • Always have water outside and access to shade.
  • Not all dogs can swim well. If you have a pool, monitor them closely.
  • If you're having a barbecue, keep your pet away from the hot grill. Ensure they do not have access to poisonous food such as artificial sweeteners, grapes, raisins, chocolate, or onions.

Another concern on hot days is heat stroke, especially for pets with 'squishy' flat faces. Pets with thick coats, overweight pets, and those with upper respiratory problems are also at risk. Encourage drinking. Signs of heat stroke may include heavy breathing and restlessness, dark gums (almost red), weakness, vomiting or diarrhea (sometimes bloody), confusion, seizures, and high temperature. Keep a thermometer in your pet's first aid kit and take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is greater than 105ºF, it is a medical emergency. Use cool, not cold, water to cool your pet down until the temperature gets to 103ºF (you can use towels soaked with cool water on the head, stomach, armpits, and feet). Then, rush your pet to the vet.


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