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 from 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 the sound of thunder, don’t baby him. That only reinforces his fear.
Remain calm. Be reassuring. Go about doing whatever you normally do. This is one of the hardest behaviors to modify so you don’t want to unnecessarily reinforce his fear.
Dog spring danger: Pests
Dogs that aren’t on a heartworm preventative treatment run the risk of getting the potentially life-threatening parasitic infection through mosquito bites that carry the infective heartworm larvae.
According to PetMD, the larvae then 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 easily jump to your bedding and furniture. Because fleas can transmit diseases including plague, it is vital to know effective, natural flea remedies.
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 to hide in the folds in your dog’s neck or in their armpits.
Dog spring danger: Wildlife
Wild animals pose many risks for pets. Not the least of which are attacks from animals such as coyotes and mountain lions.
Another common danger is rabies for dogs that have not been properly vaccinated. Everything from bats to rats, raccoons, and skunks, can become infected and transmit rabies. Infected animals spread the disease through scratches or bites.
The disease is usually spread via contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding. Animals also can spread leptospirosis by a bite from an infected animal or by eating infected carcasses.
An encounter with a skunk may not make your dog sick, but it can make him and your house pretty stinky. If you live in an area with skunks, it’s a good idea to stock up on the supplies you’ll need to clean up your dog before you need them.
Dog spring danger: Landscaping
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 pose the danger your dog could develop cancer, kidney damage and anemia. These toxic cleaners still pose health risks even when they are closed and put away since they leave behind harmful vapors. Ammonia vapors from household cleaners are irritating to the skin. Chlorine is poisonous to breathe and can cause serious 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 normally 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 the switch 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.
But some dogs develop skin reactions on top of watery itchy eyes. So if your dog is scratching too much they could just have an allergy or a hot spot.
If you notice your dog excessively scratching or licking an area of his body, consult your vet for best treatment options.
Dog spring danger: Weekend warrior syndrome
Once the weather warms up, it’s easy to get excited about being outside and planning a long run or hike.
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.
Bottom line: Spring is always a welcome change after months of dreary skies, cold weather and snow. Just take some precautions to make sure your dog can enjoy the change of season as much you do by protecting him from dog spring dangers including thunderstorms, wild animals, pests and both landscaping and household toxins.
Sara B. Hansen has spent the past 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 Dog’s Best Life. 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 puppy. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].