Spring Health Care Tips for Dogs
As spring approaches, start saying goodbye to winter and take your dog out for an enjoyable hike–but wait. Is your dog properly protected for a springtime outing?
Pests and Parasites to Watch Out For
The most common pest your dog can pick up on a walk—or at home—is fleas. Infestation can be easily prevented and eliminated with a number of products available, including topical treatments to oral tablets.
Another pest you may encounter outdoors is mosquitoes, which can spread diseases, such as heartworm. Dogs with heartworm infections can develop often life-threatening problems over time. The worms grow in the heart and can migrate to other organs.
Animals who share the wonderful outdoors, such as raccoons, coyotes and squirrels, can also transmit internal parasites. As a puppy, your dog was dewormed, but that doesn’t mean he has a life-long protection. He can also become infected with parasites later in life. Your veterinarian can test your dog’s stool during an annual exam and, if needed, provide treatment for him.
While some parasites can be a nuisance and a health risk to your dog, they can also affect you. One in particular is Leptospirosis. It is transmitted by a microscopic organism, Leptospira, and its toxins can affect kidneys and liver. The contaminated animal (small mammals, deer and even domestic stock) voids the bladder and spreads live Leptospira, which could come in contact with your dog.
There is an optional vaccine available. However, your dog might have an adverse reaction to it. Therefore, you should discuss the pros and cons of the vaccine with your veterinarian. The best way to avoid Leptospirosis is limiting your dog’s access to contaminated water.
Lyme disease is another concern for both you and your dog. It’s caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to pets and humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. The disease has a variety of symptoms and can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Fortunately, there is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs.
What You Can Do
Check Your Dog for Ticks
It’s also a good idea to use tick-repellant products, such as collars and topicals, which prevent ticks from attaching to your dog. As a general rule, you should be brushing your dog regularly. Checking for ticks, fleas, and other pests should be a part of that but to be extra-safe, don’t forget to examine your dog after a walk for any ticks that may have hitched a ride.
Get a Heartworm Test Done
In regions where the temperature is consistently above 57°F year-round, a prevention schedule is highly recommended. Your veterinarian can perform a simple heartworm test as part of your dog’s annual checkup and recommend the appropriate products for prevention.
Preventive care goes a long way. There are a variety of products available to help protect your dog from parasites and pests. Some can combat multiple problems. For example, a product that kills fleas can also prevent heartworm disease, and treat and control hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.
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