While spring brings sunshine, flowers, and more, the changing season also brings unstable weather, pests, wildlife, and other dangers that threaten dogs.
Dog spring danger: Thunderstorms
Approximately 30% of puppies and dogs are distressed and suffer physical and behavioral problems during lightning and thunderstorms.
Watch your dog’s body language for signs he’s developing a storm phobia.
If your dog becomes afraid of thunder, don’t baby him. That only reinforces his fear.
Remain calm. Be reassuring. Go about doing whatever you usually do. This is one of the most challenging behaviors to modify, so you don’t want to reinforce his fear unnecessarily.
Dog spring danger: Pests
Dogs not on a heartworm preventative treatment risk getting a potentially life-threatening parasitic infection through mosquito bites that carry the infective heartworm larvae.
According to PetMD, the larvae migrate to the heart and blood vessels in the lungs. Dogs with heartworm disease may need to be hospitalized while they are treated.
Fleas are tiny blood-sucking insects that latch onto dogs and can quickly jump to your bedding and furniture. Because fleas can transmit diseases, including plague, knowing effective, natural flea remedies is vital.
Ticks carry five common diseases: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis. If you spend time out in the woods, be sure to check your dog thoroughly for ticks. They love hiding in the folds of your dog’s neck or armpits.
“It’s important to keep your lawn clean and tidy to help prevent ticks and fleas in and around your yard,” says Donnie Shelton from Triangle Lawn Care.
Dog spring danger: Wildlife
Another common danger is rabies for dogs that have not been adequately vaccinated. Everything from bats to rats, raccoons, and skunks, can become infected and transmit rabies. Infected animals spread the disease through scratches or bites.
Rabies isn’t the only disease wild animals spread.
Rodents, foxes, raccoons, and more also can carry the bacterial disease leptospirosis, which can be transmitted to dogs and people.
The disease is usually spread via contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food, or bedding. Animals can also spread leptospirosis by a bite from an infected animal or eating infected carcasses.
An encounter with a skunk may not make your dog sick, but it can make him and your house stinky. If you live in an area with skunks, stocking up on the supplies, you’ll need to clean up your dog before you need them.
Dog spring danger: Landscaping
Making your yard beautiful can pose dangers to your dog. Mulch, fertilizers, pesticides, and even some of the plants and landscaping tools you choose can be hazardous.
Fertilizers and pesticides can be dangerous because your dog is lower to the ground and can track the chemicals into the house, increasing his exposure. They also pose a hazard because even the hardiest dog sometimes likes to eat grass.
Many popular trees and plants are hazardous to dogs, including the leaves from oak and apple trees, hostas, foxglove, mums, and daffodils. The ASPCA has compiled a complete list of toxic plants for dogs.
Popular mulches also can pose a threat, especially cocoa mulch which can make dogs sick or even kill them.
Heavy spring rains also can cause death cap mushrooms to sprout. As its name implies, the mushroom can be deadly if your dog eats one.
Spring dog danger: Household chemicals
Just be sure the products you use don’t contain chemicals that can be hazardous to either you or your dog.
Cleaning products with ingredients like chlorine, bleach, and ammonia poses the danger your dog could develop cancer, kidney damage, and anemia.
These toxic cleaners still pose health risks even when closed and put away since they leave harmful vapors behind. Ammonia vapors from household cleaners are irritating to the skin.
Chlorine is poisonous to breathe and can cause severe damage to the skin, eyes, and other membranes. It also is a common ingredient in multipurpose cleaners, disinfecting wipes, mildew removers, tile scrubs, and laundry detergents. Chlorine is denser than air and settles in low-lying areas where pets usually stay.
Take the same precautions if you need to use an exterminator. Make sure you hire one who uses pet-safe fumigation chemicals.
And while it may not be considered a hazard, dog shedding certainly can be a nuisance, and switching to warmer weather often prompts increased shedding. Regular grooming and a healthy diet supplemented with a good vacuum are your best tools to fight shedding.
Dog spring danger: Allergies
For most dogs, like most people, spring-time allergies are a minor nuisance.
If the reaction is minor, you might not even notice.
If you notice your dog excessively scratching or licking an area of his body, consult your vet for the best treatment options.
Dog spring danger: Weekend warrior syndrome
Once the weather warms up, getting excited about being outside and planning a long run or hike is easy.
But if winter weather has kept your dog cooped up without as much exercise, be careful you don’t push to do too much too soon.
PetMD cautions dogs may have gained weight, lost muscle tone, and have stiff joints. Start slowly with short runs or hikes and gentle games of fetch.
Too much exercise can strain your dog’s muscles and joints and cause excessive wear and tear on his paws.
The bottom line on spring dangers
Spring is always a welcome change after months of dreary skies, cold weather, and snow.
Just take some precautions to ensure your dog can enjoy the change of season as much as you do by protecting him from dog spring dangers, including thunderstorms, wild animals, pests, and landscaping, and household toxins.
Sara B. Hansen has spent 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching DogsBestLife.com in 2011. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ email@example.com.