Birds singing all day. That’s one way I know that we are definitely in the spring season, even if Mother Nature isn’t 100% sure yet. The spring brings new life, warmer weather and sunshine. But what does it bring with it for your dogs? Ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, parasites, skin problems/allergies and depending on where you live, even more dangers. Let’s talk about the ones I mentioned and ways to keep your dog enjoying spring not being miserable through it.
We’ll start out with ticks. There is nothing worse than when I get to my house after being in the horse barns or trailing/tracking with my dogs and finding a tick on me and or on them. Ticks are honestly one of the weirdest creatures, even for insects. Ticks can latch onto any part of your dog. Some ticks can produce a sticky substance like glue to help them stay attached to your dog. This is not a problem just for dogs that live outdoors. Ticks can attach to your dog on walks, hikes, or any outdoor activity. Ticks do carry diseases and they are spread when the tick attaches its head into the skin and is feeding off your dogs’ blood. The most familiar disease is Lyme disease but they can also cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A more extreme result of ticks is they cause anemia. Not all dogs will get any of these diseases in the blink of an eye. But the longer a tick is on your dog, the greater chance of one of these developing. Anemia can also be caused by fleas. The best way to prevent a tick biting your dog is products that are made to help keep ticks off of dogs. Consult with your veterinarian for the best product for your dog. Not all tick medicines are good for all dogs. I personally use Vectra 3D because it repels fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, plus it’s safe to use on one of my dogs that has seizures from time to time. Please consult with your vet before buying any product.
Mosquitoes. I think we all can agree those are the most annoying part of spring and summer. But they also cause one of the deadliest diseases for a dog……heartworm. This disease kills more dogs a year than cancer. The results of heartworm disease are…severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage and death. So what does a mosquito have to do with it? The mosquito is the Uber for Dirofilaria immitis, a fancy name for a parasitic worm that it is carried from animal to animal. This parasite then infects the heart and if not treated the lungs of your dog. If your dog is tested and comes up positive, they can be treated. It is not a cheap procedure and it can be hard on a dog depending on age, health, etc. The process includes x-rays, blood work to determine how severe the case is. After establishing that, your dog will get a series of injections. The prep work can cost up to $1,000, but the treatment itself can be done for around $500 in some places. The signs of heartworm disease initially doesn’t have any symptoms. But as more and more of the worms infect the heart and lungs they will develop a cough. As the disease progresses, a dog won’t be able to exercise as much as it used to. Their lungs can develop abnormal lung sounds, there can be so much loss of blood to the brain that your dog passes out. Eventually the dog will die if left untreated. There’s always been a misnomer about giving monthly heartworm medicine. Some people will tell you that you only have to give monthly medicine from spring until the first good freeze. Well this is not entirely true. Mosquitoes can live in your house all year long. They can still infect your dog if it is -10 degrees outside, so make sure you give it to them monthly. This is another medicine you need to consult with your veterinarian on which one is right for your dog. Some medicines can have adverse effects for dogs the are epileptic.
Fleas are the other pains in the you know what for dog owners. Fleas can be picked up from anywhere….the park, dog boarding/daycare, the next door neighbor, etc. Fleas can not only cause an infestation on your dog but they can cause one in your home as well. The more fleas you have, the harder it is to get rid of them. The best way to help prevent fleas is by doing a monthly treatment, yes just like heartworms, on your dog. Fleas can cause your dogs to have diseases as well. The most common one is anemia. Now I’m talking that your dog has a substantial amount of fleas on him and has had for quite sometime. Since fleas feed on the dogs blood, they essentially drain the body of it. Dogs can die from fleas. The other thing it can cause is skin issues and just plain old irritation to your dog. If you see skin lesions or your dog scratching literally non stop, call your veterinarian and make an appointment to have your dog looked at. Also make sure you talk to your vet or their staff about what flea preventative is good for your dog. Please do not buy flea preventive from stores like Wal-Mart, Target or your grocery store without consulting with your vet first. Some medicines have caused major health problems including chemical burns.
Allergies…..those of us who suffer from them know how annoying and draining they can be. Some signs that your dog is suffering from allergies are nonstop licking of their paws and the hair on top and in between their pads are a red color, ear infections, hot spots, swelling of the eyes and so on. Fortunately dog allergies, some, can be controlled by our OTC allergy medicines. Talk to your vet about a dose of Zyrtec or Benadryl to help battle them. If allergies are left too long not being treated or diagnosed, the constant scratching and itching can cause open sores and infections.
Spring is a wonderful time of year after a long winter. Please make sure it’s just as enjoyable for your dog as it is you. Now get out there with them and enjoy spring!!