Spring has been taking its time here in Michigan. We haven’t had much actual warm weather, but we will eventually. With the warmer weather, we’re going to see a whole host of springtime problems. I’d like to take some time to share a few precautions to help you avoid trouble this spring.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
I always see an uptick in vomiting and diarrhea cases in the spring. My suspicion is that when dogs are outside in the spring, there’s a lot of yard debris and mud. Both are interesting to smell and walk around in, so noses and feet come into contact with rotting plant material, animal feces, and melted snow. Dogs being dogs, they’ll take an opportunity to lick/eat something gross; or lick their feet after they’ve come inside. Whether it’s some kind of microorganism, or simply sickness from eating rotten stuff, GI upset is the end result. Thankfully, it’s generally easy to treat. Avoiding it is even better, though. Clean up the winter debris in the yard as soon as you can and try to wipe off your dog’s feet after they’ve been outside. I’d also like to encourage you to give us a call rather than waiting out vomiting/diarrhea for days and days. We can intervene earlier and get the GI upset controlled a lot sooner.
It’s early yet to see a lot of fleas and ticks, but they’ll be moving around soon after the weather warms consistently. Wild animals and stray dogs and cats are still warm bodies that can bring fleas into your yard or home. When cottages/cabins/vacation homes are opened up for the spring, too, any immature fleas left over from last summer can finish their life cycle very quickly and become adults that are -hungry-. Have your flea and tick topicals on your pets before you go!
Heartworm – Mosquitos
As soon as the weather has been over 57 degrees for a couple of weeks, mosquitos can start transmitting heartworm larva to dogs through their bites. We’ve been given some new information in the last year that indicates it may take more than one dose of prevention to clear out an infective bite that would otherwise give a dog heartworm disease. Missed doses (not just from owners forgetting) put dogs at higher risk. The FDA and the American Heartworm Society have recommended that all dogs be tested on a yearly basis, even if they get prevention year-round. If you’ve missed any doses at all, come in for a heartworm test so we can safely restart prevention for your dog. (Cats should be on prevention, too, even if they’re indoor only! We don’t routinely test cats, but they still get a monthly prevention.) For more information, check out heartwormsociety.org.
Other Outdoor Concerns
As you get out into the yard, be aware that some of our gardening and landscaping work can put pets at risk. Be sure to keep pets off the lawn when you’ve sprayed any liquid fertilizer/chemicals. Read the cautions with dry fertilizers/weedkillers, too. Cocoa bean hull mulch can cause a severe toxicity; any mulch can cause an intestinal obstruction if it’s eaten. Plants like lilies, ivy, palms, caladium and more are also toxic. Here’s a massive list of toxic plants put together by the ASPCA.
Even after all of those risks have been discussed, Spring is an incredible opportunity to get out and about with your dog. Break them in easy — a full day of high activity can be too much right at the start. Be smart, be careful and there’ll be plenty of opportunity to have fun!