Spring Has Sprung for Pets


If spring is truly “in the air,” your pets should be able to pick up the scent! Here are some tips to help pets handle the change of seasons:

1. Preventive veterinary care: Have you seen your veterinarian lately? Twice-annual exams are a good idea, allowing veterinarians to detect problems early, which can mean a better outcome for the patient, and cost savings for pet owners.

2. Winter weight gain: Getting flabby over the winter may be even more of a problem for pets than it is for us. Two issues are involved: Pets don’t exercise outside as often, and you don’t get outdoors as often. With you in the house more, your pet may indulge in more between-meal snacks. An increase of as little as two pounds for a cat or small dog may not seem significant, but imagine any of us increasing our weight 20 percent over the winter. About half of all pets are overweight or obese, which can be directly linked to several illnesses, including diabetes in cats; arthritis, some types of cancer and behavioral problems.

3. Shaping up: No crash workouts! Take it easy and ease your pet into condition. Exercise is great, but remember it’s not likely your pet worked out on a treadmill over the winter, as you (maybe) did.

4. Go away, buggers: If your pets aren’t protected from fleas and ticks, start today. The question is, what product do you choose, with so many available at big box stores and online? Don’t make an impulsive choice based on price or marketing because you might lose in the long run. Instead, consult your veterinarian for the product best suited to the individual lifestyles of your pets. Due to the mild winter, and (so far) wet spring, parasites may enjoy a banner year. Protect your pets before there’s an infestation.

5. Heartworm issues: In many parts of America, this was the mildest winter in decades, and with a rainy spring arriving, it seems our fate is sealed. Mosquitoes are likely to be abuzz in record numbers. Among the host of nasty diseases these buggers carry is heartworm, which can be fatal to dogs and cats. What’s more, for the foreseeable future, the treatment for heartworm disease in dogs (a drug called Immiticide) may take a while to procure (due to manufacturing issues), and there may be a potential for greater difficulty as demand increases into the summer. In cats, there’s no treatment for heartworm disease. Of course, there’s no need to even think about treatment if your pets are protected. Preventive medicines really work, and what’s more, most also protect against intestinal parasites, and some even kill fleas. Learn more about heartworm from the American Heartworm Society.

6. Hair affair: Now’s the time for the “big shed,” which means more brushing. The more you brush your pets, the less you vacuum.

7. Hitting the road: Even if you can afford the gas, many pets are more eager to stay home than join you on a road trip. For pets you know would love the experience, but might get car sick, ask your veterinarian about Cerenia. For pets with a touch of anxiety, ask your veterinarian about pheromone products (Feliway for cats and ADAPTIL for dogs), and Anxtiane, an amino acid called L-theamine (for dogs or cats). Remember, don’t do as Mitt Romney did (strapping his dog’s carrier to the roof of the car). Make sure pets are secured safely  inside  the car.

8. Microchip your pets: Of course, for all pets hitting the road, ID is a must. This is important even for indoor cats, as more people may be coming and going from your house, increasing the risk that a door may be left open. Also, remember to register with your microchip provider.

9. Enjoy your pets: As you get out and about more, enrich your pet’s indoor environment with treat-dispensing toys as a sort of occupational therapy for when you’re not home. And remember that more than anything else, what your pets yearn for is you.

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services