Pet Talk: Beware of springs hazards for pets (column) | VailDaily.com

Pet Talk: Beware of springs hazards for pets (column)

Shela Fitzpatrick, DVM
Pet Talk

Spring has arrived here in the Vail Valley. With the early thaw and onset of warmer weather far sooner this season, we as pet owners should prepare our pets and ourselves to face springtime diseases, parasites and possible emergencies.

There are many hazards that come with the thaw, and already we have seen an increased number of emergencies in our practice because of them.

Off-Leash Dangers

Firstly, as the weather warms, our pets are out of the house enjoying the dog parks, the hiking and all of the other activities that would increase pet-to-pet contact.

The most common hazards I have already seen have resulted from pets being off leash and loose. Pets are excited to be outside and are able to run free, but with that come the dangers that they see another dog, or a rabbit or any other distraction that causes them to run across the street and into danger of oncoming traffic.

This can lead to fractures, severe lacerations and multiple orthopedic and internal injuries.

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Pets off leash are also prone to dog bites and fights with other animals, resulting in deep infections and even "abscesses," all which require immediate veterinary attention.

Pets off leash are more prone to get into things such as trash, carcasses and other edible hazards that can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea.

This time of year, we commonly see intestinal bacterial and parasitic infections such as giardia as well as common parasites such as tapeworms resulting from ingestion of carcasses of wild animals and contaminated feces and water. Also, we see a lot of intestinal blockages when pets do get into any of these hazards, and they can become ill very quickly.

Common Diseases

In addition to the off-leash hazards come other issues with spring.

This is a time we are all traveling south to warmer climates, or we start planning our hiking trips in the mountains. With this warmer climate, the onset of common spring diseases such as tick-bourne diseases have already shown up in our routine spring check ups for pets.

Also, heartworm disease prevalence will increase earlier, due to the shorter cold season and arrival of mosquitoes. As you plan your spring and summer travel, be proactive and understand the potential for your pet to be exposed to both heartworm and ticks and be proactive about testing and preventative measures.

So often folks here in the Vail Valley say to me: "We don't have those diseases here," yet as we test more pets, we are seeing a rise in the incidence.

Just because we can't see it visually doesn't mean our pets are not carrying it.

Lastly, it is critical to have your veterinarian advise you on proper vaccinations for your pet, based on the potential exposure to other pets and the diseases themselves. Already this year, rabies is on the rise in Southern Wyoming as well as Northern Colorado, where multiple rabid skunks have been found.

Ask your veterinarian what is best for your pet and advise them on your travel plans this spring and summer.

Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.