This time of the year on Long Island brings with it seasonal risks to our pets. You might ask, “why is this is so in springtime?” There are several factors that contribute to this increased risk.
Firstly, dogs have been inside homes for most of the winter. We tend to open the doors wide and let our pets run free in the backyard. We see a lot of injuries associated with jumping off back decks and landing incorrectly. Dogs that are older or have pre-existing arthritis conditions often will leap off of elevated decks with puppy enthusiasm and land beautiful belly flops in soft or muddy soil conditions. This can result in damage to hips, spine, knees and many other joints.
As spring thaws the great outdoors we see ticks and fleas become more active. It also brings with it those pesky mosquitoes. It is very important to keep your pet on monthly heartworm and flea and tick control to make sure they are protected from all the disease they carry.
Many dogs and cats will begin to ingest lush green spring grass as well. This is not a good practice although many owners believe it is not harmful.
We often see patients who have ingested toxic mushrooms and weeds that can cause poisoning. Even regular grass can be irritating and create vomiting and diarrhea that is often associated with dehydration. Pet parents should discourage this behavior as it can also often lead to intestinal parasite eggs being ingested along with yard debris (staying on monthly Sentinel or Interceptor Plus will help protect against intestinal parasites). It is true that dogs and cats explore their environment with their mouths, but grass is foreign material that is loaded with bacteria and hard to digest. Eating this debris can also cause a pet to broaden out this behavior to ingest rocks, wood and other more solid foreign bodies.
As our pets begin to once again enjoy the beautiful outdoors they are going to need lots of fresh water. Sounds logical but often owners are not aware that increased body metabolism requires increased hydration for a pet to stay healthy. This is particularly important for older or medically compromised pets who need to stay hydrated to protect kidney and liver functions. My own dogs enjoy ice cubes as a treat. We will often freeze a piece of melon, strawberry or vegetable as an additional incentive.
Stop, look and listen are the watch words of good pet parenting. Even your own backyard can be an increased risk environment for our furry family members. You are their guardian, their friend and in every respect their mentor. Enjoy these “fur kids” but protect them well.