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Dogs tend to love spring because they get to spend more time outdoors. After being cooped up during the winter it is a joy for them to be able to take advantage of the lengthening and warming days to release all of their pent up winter energy. It is equally joyful for us watching our dogs have a good time. However the warmer days bring about certain health concerns so take a moment and make sure your dog is fully prepared for spring.
Depending on where you live mosquitoes start becoming more active. Generally heartworm preventative medication should be given year round to prevent infection because mosquitoes thrive year round in many parts of the country and as our climate continues to warm mosquitoes tend to stay active longer each year. Despite this some pet owners do not give heartworm preventatives in the winter so spring is a good time of year to make sure your dog has been checked for heartworm and is current on his heartworm preventative medication. The cost of heartworm preventative medication is a bargain when compared to how much it costs to treat heartworm disease.
In addition to mosquitoes, ticks and fleas become more prevalent as well. There are a variety of products available to combat these nuisances, so ask your veterinarian which one is best for your dog. Start early as preventing ticks and fleas from becoming a problem is far easier than dealing with a major flea infestation and get into the habit of regularly checking your dog for ticks. Ticks are typically found around the head, on the ears, neck, chest and forelegs although they can be found anywhere. Usually it is easier to find them by feeling for them instead of looking depending on how long your dog’s coat is.
Spring is a good time to check and make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. Dog to dog contact increases in the spring and continues on into the Summer months. Your dog is exposed to more infectious diseases during this time of year. For example many veterinary clinics start to see increased incidence of kennel cough in the spring because of increasing dog-to-dog contact.
Spring for some people means it is time to plan and start your garden. Selecting plants that are safe for dogs will go a long way in preventing toxicities from occurring. Keep in mind that some dogs can enjoy digging as much as we do so avoid planting toxic bulbs such as hyacinths, tulips, daffodils and certain lilies. Fertilizers and mulch can be toxic as well so store them in an inaccessible area like a shed when not in use and do not allow your dog in the garden area.
With spring generally comes spring cleaning. Be aware that many household cleaning products are harmful to dogs so follow instructions as posted on the label and store all chemicals out of reach when not in use.
With spring rains come spring mud, keep your dog’s feet dry and your house clean by keeping a towel near the door and perhaps in your car as well.
Spring means fun times for dogs (and humans) so pick up the leash and go for a walk or hit the dog park. You are bound to notice a little spring in your dog’s steps.
Provide a safe and clean living space for your dog. Shelter from the elements and hazards, as well as good hygiene, are basic to a good life.
Always keep fresh water. Keeping hydrated is important for health and energy.
Feed a Balanced diet. Overweight animals can affect health in many ways. Follow the dietary recommendations that your veterinarian will make according to the nutritional needs of your dog, based on size, age, level of activity and breed
Have your pet examined regularly. Your veterinarian will provide you with the information on vaccination schedules, deworming and external parasite control. Contact your veterinarian if you believe that your pet may be ill, injured, or if something just doesn’t seem right.
Provide plenty of chances to exercise. Make sure your dog gets the regular exercise needed to enable it to be fit. By being in shape, your dog will be more capable of participating in the activities that it enjoys.
Train your dog to follow commands. Puppy and dog training classes can be very helpful. The better your dog is at following basic commands, the greater the chances are that your dog will live a safe and long life.
Dental care is important. Many dogs are predisposed to to gum disease, which can have serious effects. Infection resulting from this condition leads to premature tooth loss, and can commonly cause infections in major organs, including the heart valves.
Don’t overlook grooming and nail trimming. Long hair dogs are prone to developing hair matts and ice balls in their hair. Overgrown nails are common in elderly dogs and can make it more difficult for them to walk.
If you normally have your pet’s fur clipped or shaved, keep the length longer in winter to keep your dog warm.
Nails may need more regular trimming since your dog is spending more time indoor on soft surfaces.
If you bathe your dog at home make sure he is completely dry before going out. You may even want to switch to a waterless shampoo for the winter.
Inspect the pads of your dog’s feet for signs of cracking or irritation. A pet-specific foot ointment will help condition the pads.
In many areas, winter is a season of bitter cold and unpleasant wetness. Make sure your four-footed family members stay safe and warm.
Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no situations should pets be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops.
If your dog is outdoors much of the day, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Pets that are outside a lot of time need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.
Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a wet towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.
Daily exercise is good for both your pooch’s mental and physical well-being. Exercise can help your baby dog avoid arthritis and other problems with his joints later on in life. Dogs are also prone to the same types of obesity-related illnesses as humans, so exercise is crucial to helping them keep off the pounds.
Puppies need exercise for mental stimulation. Moving around keeps them from becoming bored. Many owners find that taking their dogs out for regular outdoor play and walks cuts down on behavioral issues like incessant chewing and digging and nonstop barking that make owners want to pull their hair out.
How Much is Enough?
Make sure you’re consistent with the amount of exercise your puppy gets. You need to help him build his stamina, and the only way he can do this is by exercising regularly but with caution.
The amount of exercise your puppy needs depends on his age, breed and medical condition. Not every breed will be up for a long walk. Some breeds are just not built to go the distance, while others are always ready to romp.
Puppies need five minutes of exercise per month of age up to twice a day. In other words, a 3-month-old puppy will need 15 minutes of exercise while a 4-month-old will need 20 minutes. This may take the form of low-impact activities like swimming or playing with small dog exercise balls. You can also take your puppy out for short walks on a leash. However, if he starts to sit down, give him time to rest. If he does not start walking again, you may have to carry him home.
Most adult dogs should participate in some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours every day. Your puppy’s genetics will determine when it’s time to move her up to adult dog exercise. If she won’t get any larger than 25 pounds then she can start at around 9 months. If she’ll end up weighing between 25 to 100 pounds it’s best to wait until she’s at least 14 months old. If she’ll be tipping the scale at 100 pounds or more, you can introduce these activities to her when she is at least a year and a half old.
So, how will your pooch feel after exercising? Pretty much the same as you and I feel after a great workout. Taking your puppy on a nice short walk or letting him play in the yard translates to a calmer dog that will more than likely sleep very well that night.
Buy the right clippers. Groomers use two types of clippers: standard clippers and small clippers. Standard clippers are used for all around grooming, while small clippers are used on the face, ears, and feet. Or you can buy ordinary dog clippers from your local pet supply store. Just remember, you get what you pay for.
Teach your dog. Before you sit down for a clipping session, get your dog used to the clippers. Let him become familiar with their sight and smell before you turn them on. Next, power the clippers on and let your dog become familiar with the noise. Give him some treats while he’s listening to the buzz to help him realize the clippers are a good thing.
Wash the dog. Give your dog a bath and let him dry thoroughly before you clip him. Avoid clipping a dirty dog if at all possible. The dirt will clog the clippers and make your job difficult.
Go with the grain. When clipping the coat, go with the hair, not against it.
Provide breaks. If your grooming session is a long one, give your dog a few breaks throughout the process.
Give rewards. Once you’ve completed the clipping, tell your dog what a good boy he is and give him treats and praise.
Before the weather gets cold outside, make sure you and your dog are ready for winter. It’s starting to get cold outside. And in no time at all, we’ll be walking in the winter snow. There are plenty of dogs that love playing in the snow. As you pull out your winter boots and jacket, don’t forget about what your dog will need to keep them warm while outside. Here are ways to get your dog ready for winter.
Dogs Boots: The ice and salt can injure a dog’s paws. Salt can get caught in between a dog’s paws, which can cause damage due to its sharp edges or if it’s ingested. Salt and ice can burn a dog’s paw pads. Not only do boots protect against injury, they also help your dog grip on the ice
Dog Coats and Sweaters: Some dogs need the extra protection from the biting cold. Some breeds are built for this kind of weather, but others need the protection – especially those with short coats and smaller breeds
Dry, Itchy Skin: Your pets skin gets dry and flaky thanks to the cold air outside and the warm, dry air inside. To help your dog’s skin health, consider using a humidifier. Regular brushings can also help with this issue, as it gets rid of dead hair and stimulates your dog’s skin to produce more oils. If you give your dog a bath, use shampoos with oatmeal, an ingredient that help soothe skin.
Limit Your Time Outdoors: Even dogs can get frostbite – on their paws, tail, nose and ears. Don’t leave your dog outside for long periods of time. And never leave them in the backyard alone during this time of year, especially if they are an indoor dog.
Never Leave Your Dog in the Car: It’s just as dangerous to your dog in the winter as it is in the summer. If you leave your car running and your dog is alone in the car, carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real threat to his life. Even if you turn off the engine, it’s still a bad idea. The temperature in the car will drop quickly, leaving your dog without any protection from the cold.
Beware of Antifreeze: Antifreeze is deadly to dogs. It tends to pool on driveways and sidewalks. Our dogs can walk through it and lick their paws afterward or can go right in for a sniff and a taste. Keep an eye out for this liquid while outside on walks and wash your dog’s paws once you get home.
Live Christmas trees are considered to be mildly toxic to pets. Fir tree oil can irritate to the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting for your pet. Tree needles are not easily digested, either, and can possibly lead to GI irritation, vomiting, or obstruct the gastro tract of your animal. Pine needles can also be ingested and puncture intestines, and pine is highly toxic to cats, potentially causing liver damage and death.
Artificial trees can also be dangerous when eaten—the toxins from the artificial material and intestinal obstruction being the main concerns. When you are decorating for the holidays, don’t forget to keep other pet-poisonous plants, such as Mistletoe and Holly, out of reach from your furry friend.
Also note that many times pets likely won’t consume mass quantities of tree material—meaning it’s not enough to make them sick. However, still continue to monitor them for any changes of behavior excessive licking, salivating, appetite, activity, water consumption, vomiting and diarrhea. And call your vet right away if anything seems wrong.
Cats and small dogs are generally considered “senior” at seven years old, but we all know they’ve got plenty of life left in them at that age. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans compared to smaller breeds and are often considered senior when they are 5 to 6 years of age. The “senior” classification is based on the fact that pets age faster than people, and veterinarians start seeing more age-related problems in these pets.
Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each year in dog years.
While it’s easy to spot the outward signs of aging such as a graying coat and slower pace, it’s important to remember a pet’s organ systems are also changing as they age. An older pet is more likely to develop diseases such as heart, kidney and liver disease, cancer, or arthritis. Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats have a somewhat lower rate.
It is normal for pets to lose some of their sight and hearing as they age, similar to humans. Older pets may develop cataracts. Pets with poor sight or even blindness can get around well in familiar environments. If your pet’s eyesight is failing, avoid rearranging or adding furniture or other items that could become obstacles.
Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age.
If your pet is starting to avoid active playing or running or if it has trouble with daily activities such as jumping up on its favorite chair or into the family car, it may have arthritis. A pet with arthritis may also show irritation when you touch or pet it (especially over the arthritic areas), and may seem more depressed or grouchy. There may be other reasons for these changes; you should have your pet examined by your veterinarian to determine the cause of the problems.
Senior pet, RugbyBehavior changes in your pet can serve as the first indicators of aging or of a problem. These changes might be due to discomfort or pain (arthritis, etc) or worsening sight or hearing, but they may also be due to the normal aging process. Some behavior changes in older pets may be due to cognitive dysfunction, which is similar to senility in people.
Weight can have a tremendous effect on an older pet’s health. Excess weight on an older pet increases the risk of arthritis, difficulty breathing, insulin resistance or diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, skin problems, cancer and other conditions. An overweight pet may not show any early warning signs of health problems, so regular visits to your veterinarian are recommended. Sudden weight loss in an older pet is also a source for concern, especially in cats. Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), diabetes and kidney disease are common causes of weight loss in senior cats. If you notice any sudden changes in your older pet’s weight, contact your veterinarian.
Because senior pets are more likely to develop age-related problems, they should be regularly examined by a veterinarian to keep them healthy and to detect problems early, before they become more difficult and costly to treat. Talk to your veterinarian about a preventive care schedule that best suits your pet.
Exhaust your dog before guests arrive. A tired dog is usually a well-behaved one. Take your pooch out for a good run before all the company comes over, just be sure to gradually wind down the activity level.
Make sure ID tags are up to date. This should be the case anytime, but during the holidays especially, when people are coming and going and a pet might slip out the door. If you and your pooch are traveling for the holiday, tape the new address to its ID tag.
Ask people beforehand about any allergies. The reality is, if you have pets, allergens collect everywhere, you can try to minimize the allergens by regularly vacuuming with a device that includes a HEPA filter, using a low-dust or clumping litter and cleaning the box often, dusting and wiping down your walls, and brushing your pet frequently. (Vacuuming can temporarily stir up allergens, so avoid doing it on the actual day of the party.)
Don’t assume guests want a furry dog perched on their lap. You may regularly cuddle with your pet on the sofa, but your guests may not be thrilled to have all that fur snuggled up next to them. Place its bed on the floor near its usual spot, and put a nearby to keep it busy. If a guest is willing to gently play with the pooch, it will feel part of the party and be more likely to stay off the furniture.
Don’t leave food at a level where your pets can steal it. All those hors d’oeuvres on your coffee table are a major lure; they can easily think the coffee-table height is a sign that the treats are intended for them. Keep the dog in another room during this course, or place the food higher up and out of its reach.
Don’t let friends and family feed your pets from the table. Yes, those puppy-dog eyes can be hard to resist, but guests shouldn’t succumb, since this rewards and encourages begging. Instead, give your pet dinner in its bowl at the same time you sit down to eat your meal. After guests leave, reward the good behavior by putting just a few small tidbits in their bowl.
Most importantly, enjoy the holiday season with your family, friends and your pets.
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