With daytime getting longer and temperatures getting warmer, pets will be spending more time outdoors. You can help your pets enjoy the benefits of increased activity and sunshine by taking precautions to assure their continued good health.
1. Check your pet’s vaccine records to assure they are up to date. Assure your pets have excellent protection against infectious/contagious diseases. Recommendations for immunizations change periodically, as both vaccines and regional risks vary. If you’re not certain what illnesses your pets need to vaccinated for, call your vet’s office to assure which of the following risks your pet should be vaccinated for:
-Rabies (dogs and cats)
-DAPP (canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus)
-Lyme disease (canine)
-Feline Leukemia Virus (feline)
-FVRCP+C, Feline Distemper combination vaccine
2. If you’re planning on vacationing, be sure to start prepping pets for their travel or kennel stay now by creating independent times, having day visits to the kennel and obtaining vaccines over a several week period, rather than giving all vaccines at one visit (that practice increases your pet’s chance of having a negative vaccine reaction).
3. Get your pet conditioned for physical activity by creating a schedule that prevents injury while increasing stamina. Warm weather means pets and people can get outdoors more often. Don’t make the mistake of overdoing physical activity by taking a couch potato, overweight pet out for a 2 mile run or playing Frisbee for an hour, on the first sunny days. Instead, do gentle stretching for yourself and your pet, before a short jog. A vet trained in rehab therapy can help your pet add years by improving his core strength and fitness, while avoiding injury. Additionally, details like heart rate and respiratory rate can be indicators of fitness level. If pets begin panting right away on walks, stop and let them catch their breath. Watch their tongue and gum color. If you see any lavender or pale color, give them a rest and make an appointment with the veterinarian before beginning more rigorous exercise.
4. Use spring time as an opportunity to clean up your diet and that of your pets. Plants, including dandelion and other spring greens, which are abundant in the spring, are nature’s gift to many animals as a way to detoxify the liver and digestive tract. I encourage pet owners to feed steamed and chopped greens and eliminate high carbohydrate treats during this time of year. For more advice about how to wisely use the bounty of each season to feed your pets, be sure to consult with a veterinary nutritionist or holistic veterinarian.
5. Protect pets from intestinal and external parasites, and vector-borne illnesses, including Lyme disease. Resume flea, tick and heartworm products, if you’ve stopped them. Work with your veterinarian to assure you are using the best products to prevent the spread of diseases like Bartonella and Lyme diseases to you, your family and your pets. Not all products are safe for all pets, so be sure to get your vet’s approval before applying new chemicals or feeding your pet products which may be ineffective or harmful. And avoid buying these important products online, where a high percentage sold are fake products which may actually contain toxins in addition to being ineffective for controlling ticks in your home and on your pet.
6. Fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and mulch when treating yards and landscaping. Research products for safety around pets, and never just accept “This yard treatment is completely safe for pets”. Get the names of all chemicals and either read the safety info or ask your vet before having chemicals applied to your yard. Glyphosates (the chemical in Round-up) were once considered safe, but are now known to be carcinogens for pets and people.
7. Use caution when choosing plants for landscaping and indoor use. Some plants have berries and flowers which can be toxic. A visit to the ASPCA website can help you choose pet-safe plants. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants
8. Prepare for fishing sports by assuring pets do not have access to fish hooks and lures.
9. If your pet will have access to your boat or swimming pool this summer, order a well-fitted pet life jacket now to assure it will arrive in time for the season.
Now it’s time to get out and enjoy the season. Remember to use your veterinarian’s expertise in protecting your family and pet from illness and injuries.