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5 Dog Health Tips for Springtime

Owner caressing gently her dog
Dogs love spring as much as you do. The warmer temperatures, fresh air, and ability to play outside without trudging through a foot of snow will have your dog feeling great as springtime rolls in.

However, there are some important health concerns that come up for dogs as the weather starts to warm up. To ensure that your canine companion remains happy and healthy in the coming months, follow these five health tips.

1. Practice Good Flea and Tick Prevention

If you stopped using flea and tick prevention medications over the winter, then make sure you remember to start using these products again as soon as the weather warms up. Even if your dog does not have contact with other pets, they could pick up fleas in the grass outside. Ticks, which spread Lyme disease and other serious illnesses, become more active in the spring. 

There are both spot-on treatments and oral treatments that keep fleas and ticks away from your dog. Some heartworm medications also protect against fleas and ticks. Talk to your vet if you are unsure about which treatment is best for your pet.

2. Make Sure Your Dog's Rabies Shot Is Current

Rabies is essentially 100 percent fatal. It presents a risk to your dog and to you and your family members - your dog can pass rabies on to you if bitten and infected by a rabid animal. With the weather warming up and dogs spending more time outside, it is vital that they are up to date on their rabies vaccines. 

Most dogs are given a one-year vaccine for rabies when they are puppies, and subsequent vaccines last for three years. If your dog's vaccine is expired or will expire soon, make an appointment at the vet's office. While you are there, your vet can review your dog's records and recommend other vaccines they may need.

3. Keep Your Dog Out of Standing Water

On unseasonably warm spring days, your dog may be tempted to take a dip in a pond or ditch. However, you should make an effort to keep your dog out of standing water. Numerous diseases, including leptospirosis, giardia, and cryptospirosis are spread through water. Some of these diseases also affect humans, so if your dog does take a bath in a puddle, wash them carefully and protect yourself with gloves.

4. Ease Your Dog Into an Exercise Routine

If your dog spent extra time on the couch this winter, then make sure you ease them back into an exercise routine. For example, do not head out on an eight-mile hike the first time you take your dog out in the spring. Start with just 15 or 20 minutes of walking or playing outside a day and slowly lengthen your play sessions as your dog's stamina returns. This approach helps prevent injuries and exhaustion.

5. Remember Safety While Spring Cleaning

If you plan on following a comprehensive spring cleaning plan, make sure the products you use are safe for your dog. Many conventional carpet cleaners and surface cleaners can irritate your dog's respiratory tract and digestive system. Look for more natural, earth-friendly cleaners that are labeled safe for pets or rely on vinegar and baking soda for more of your cleaning tasks.

Also, keep pet safety in mind when cleaning up your landscaping for the spring. Herbicides and lawn chemicals can cause nausea and an increased risk of certain cancers in dogs. Do not use these products on areas of the yard where your dog roams.

Spring is in the air, and with the tips above, this season will be a healthy one for your dog. Contact Riverfront Animal Hospital if your dog is due for vaccinations or if you have other questions about preventative healthcare.