With spring upon us, dogs and dog owners are headed back outside. However, along with warmer weather and longer days, spring also brings some health risks for dogs. Here are five common springtime canine health risks to be aware of.
- Fleas, ticks, and other pests
Your dog may be loving the warmer temperatures and more outside playtime, but he won’t love picking up a tick or flea infestation! Ticks are an especially big concern, as they spread a number of diseases in both animals and humans. In fact, the Cary Institute is estimating a record surge in tick-borne Lyme disease in 2017 in the northeastern United States. The best way to prevent ticks and fleas in dogs is to regularly administer flea and tick control medication – either monthly topical ointments applied to your dog’s skin or monthly oral medications. Some of these products also protect against heartworm, which also poses a threat for your dog as temperatures rise and heartworm-carrying mosquitos start to reappear.
- Springtime allergies
We may think of hay fever as a human problem, but dogs can suffer from allergies, too. Common allergy symptoms in dogs include sneezing, coughing, or itching. If you notice any of these symptoms, your dog may be allergic to springtime plants or pollen. Your vet will be able to prescribe medicines to help, such as an oral antihistamine or a medicated shampoo.
Dogs can also suffer from more life-threatening allergies to bee stings and other insect bites. Dogs are most commonly stung or bitten on the face, particularly around the snout and in the mouth. Common symptoms of bee sting allergies in dogs include widespread swelling that extends away from the sting site, weakness and lethargy, trouble breathing, and anaphylactic shock. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately.
- Gardening products
Spring is the time when many gardeners start using fertilizers, insecticides, mulch, and herbicides. Dog owners need to be aware, though, that many common gardening products are dangerous for dogs to ingest. Snail and slug baits are an especially common source of poisoning in dogs. Always store gardening products out of reach of your dog, and keep your dog out of the garden and off the lawn when these products are applied.
- Spring cleaning and home improvement projects
Sprucing up the house after the winter is common for many homeowners. But paints, solvents, and household cleaners (even the natural ones!) can include ingredients that are harmful or even deadly for dogs. Make sure all of your cleaning home maintenance products are stored out of reach of your pet, and make sure your pet’s area is well-ventilated during any cleaning or painting activities. In addition, be extra careful about where you put any nails, staples, blades, or power tools, both during and after use.
- Too much freedom
Taking your dog hiking, camping, jogging, or to the dog park more in the spring is great, but more outdoor adventures mean more opportunity for your dog to wander off. Of course, it’s best to keep your dog on a leash, but also make sure to have your dog microchipped so he can be identified if he gets away from you. And since good Samaritans who find your dog may not think to get him checked for a microchip, it’s smart to make sure your dog is also wearing a tag with your contact information.
Owners are usually very in tune with their pet’s health. If you think something just isn’t right, go with your instincts and call your vet.