The warm weather is here and with it come the bright flowers and the sunny days we’ve dreamed of all winter long. But before you break out the sunscreen and the camping gear, it’s also is a great time to review your pet’s health, safety, and grooming needs. Here are a few tips to help you (and your pet) get ready to enjoy the outdoors.
Spring Pet Health Checklist
Schedule a well-pet checkup. If your pet hasn’t been to the vet in a year or more, it’s time for a wellness check. Even if your pet is young and in seemingly excellent health, a visit to the vet can help detect subtle changes that could be indicative of future problems. Your vet will perform a routine physical exam to check your cat or dog for changes in weight, the presence of parasites, and the health of your pet’s ears, eyes, and teeth. Take this opportunity to describe any changes in your pet’s behavior, activity level, or personality. The notes your vet makes now can serve as a baseline for future visits and can help detect trouble signs before a potentially more serious health issue arises. Plus, your vet can check to ensure that your pet is up-to-date on all its vaccines!
Make time for parasite prevention. Spring also means the emergence of insect parasites like fleas and ticks. If your pets spend a significant time outdoors, they are at risk for exposure to parasites like the deer tick—a tiny parasite that may carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria responsible for Lyme’s. Fortunately, pet retailers carry an abundance of flea and tick preventives such as pet collars, powders, sprays, and shampoos to help your pet stay parasite-free. Spring is also the start of heartworm season, so consider investing in a heartworm preventive too. If you’re confused about which brand of parasite preventive is best for your pet, ask your vet to recommend one.
Give your pet a grooming session. If your pet has been indoors all winter, it may be time for a spa day. Spruce up your pet’s coat with a brush-out, trim, and shampoo at a local groomer. If you groom your pets at home, invest in a quality flea comb to detect any early signs of parasites (when fleas bite, they leave tiny scabs and flea dirt behind). A thorough combing helps remove the fleas and the detritus they create.
Editor’s Note: From grooming to pet insurance, these tips can help you care for your pet on a budget.
Gear up for the great outdoors. Spring is a great time to check on the status of your pet’s outdoor gear. If your pet is not microchipped, be sure it has a collar tagged with all your contact information. That way, if your pet becomes lost, a Good Samaritan, local vet, or animal shelter can contact you if your pet turns up. Also, if you have a hunting dog, or a dog that hikes with you in areas where hunting is permitted, be sure your animal is equipped with a brightly colored protective vest visible to hunters. If your dog carries its own gear (like a doggie backpack or water reservoir), these items should be checked for wear and tear before outdoor season gets under way.
Keep pets away from toxic plants. It’s important to remember that some of the Spring flowers we humans love so much can be hazardous if consumed by cats or dogs. If you garden or hike in the woods, here are some plants your pet should not consume: crocuses, azaleas, cyclamen, lilies (or any plant in the lily family), daffodils (especially the bulbs), oleander, philodendron, tulips, hyacinths. Not all of these plats are fatal if eaten, but many can produce vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. If your pet does consume any of these plants, contact your vet or an animal poison control center immediately.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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