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A primer on spring pet preparation

It didn’t seem like it wanted to for a while, but spring has finally returned, and with that, a new ‘leash’ on life. So many changes happen in spring and, while so many of them are good, the change of season also brings on some concerns for our pets.

For dog owners, one of the most disappointing moments of spring is the first time we look out in the thawing back yard to see all the fecal bombs that we missed over the winter. The ‘easter egg hunt’ happens in back yards everywhere, as well as in dog parks, most of which will organize a clean-up day.

Some dogs with allergies suffer the same fate as people during spring, with everything from molds to pollen causing issues. Many people will turn to allergy medications, but some will supplement with natural products that seem to help many dogs.

Dreamstime.comPuddles and mud are just some of the hazards pet owners face with the change of seasons.

Wet yards, puddles and mud also make walking in spring more challenging — especially when we arrive at home. Having a towel at the door is the minimum, but there are other products that can help make cleanup easier. There are microfibre gloves that grab on to water and mud, and you can also buy paw washers that you fill halfway with water and use to rinse off the mud.

Double-coated dogs will need extra care in the spring. When their bodies sense the change of season, they “blow” the winter undercoat, and there is fluff everywhere. Special brushes are available, with the most effective, in my opinion, being the Coat King rake, which has little hooked teeth with blades on them. These reach through the hair and pull out the undercoat almost like magic. In five minutes, a Coat King will take out twice as much hair and fluff as you can remove with a comb or other brush in half an hour. They are amazing. (Note: Do it outside, and let the birds enjoy the fluff.)

Spring also marks the beginning of flea and tick season. With so many alerts coming out about the commercial flea and tick remedies that use chemicals, there are a lot of people looking for more natural methods. There are several products, both ingested and topical, that can naturally reduce tick and flea infestations. Some ingested formulas use a combinations of herbs, leaves, and garlic to give the dog an invisible shield via the herbs effusing through the skin. There are also essential oils collars that slowly release and work into the coat, having a similar effect. Some people will even infuse a bandana with essential oils or mix oils with apple cider vinegar or water and spritz them on the pet. (There are many recipes for those online.)

Returning to the cottage also means exposing our animals to some newer hazards. Most of us have heard warnings about certain bodies of water having toxic blue-green algae in them. Most beaches post warning signs, but if you are not sure, there are online resources.

The newest concern is blastomycosis. “Blasto” is a mold that has lately become prevalent in the Kenora area and seems to be spreading. It seems to grow in the usual areas mold does so you should probably block off the underside of decks, cottages, and other concealed areas where dogs may like to hide. It usually attacks the skin, lungs and eyes of dogs, and symptoms can include just about anything, not limited to weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever. It is very hard to treat, and recovery can take many months or longer, so prevention is key. If you are concerned you may be vacationing where you will be at risk, again, Google “blastomycosis” and you can find tips to prevent and recognize it.

They always say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and knowing there is a risk is the best place to start.