Keep a close eye on your pets as the Vail Valley thaws out
Springtime is around the corner — that time of year that we all look anxiously for, as we dream about the longer, sunshine-filled days, the green grass, blooming flowers and warmer weather. But for our pets, the spring can also mean a time for increased visits to your family veterinarian, both annual preventative visits to prepare your pet for springtime diseases, as well as emergency visits due to the increasing number of hazards the spring has to offer our pets.
First, our pets begin to get out of the house, just as we do, as the weather warms. We are more likely to take our dog to the dog park, to doggy day care, out for a walk or on a hike, all activities which can increase the chance of our dogs coming into contact with other dogs, resulting in dog fights, bites and contagious diseases, both respiratory and intestinal diseases. So be cautious with your social, curious dog as you visit your favorite spots by having him or her on a leash, as well as having him or her protected through vaccination for diseases endemic to our area.
Protect your felines
For cats, this also is a time for increased exposure to other cats, very commonly resulting in bites. Bites in cats are far more dangerous than in dogs, as cats have considerably more bacteria in their mouths. These bites result in large infections called abscesses that must be treated by your veterinarian, and the saliva transmitted in these bites can also carry deadly diseases such as feline leukemia. So please, get your pets taken care of before the emergency so they can be best prepared to fight off diseases they could be exposed to.
Second, as the thaw occurs, we see far more exposure of pets to trash left behind during the winter, as well as exposed animal carcasses. Exposure to these hazards can cause intestinal blockages, internal parasites and event life-threatening intestinal infections. So please, do a spring cleanup before allowing your pet to roam on your property, and when off on a hike, keep your pets close to you so you can more carefully watch what they put in their mouths.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Third, springtime means more plant growth, as well as more toxic plant exposure for your pet. Toxic plants can make pets have mild reactions leading to severe illnesses, so keep the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ list of toxic plants close so you are aware of which plants to stay away from.
Fourth, springtime can mean an increase in the potential of your pet to be exposed to insects, which can result in bites causing severe allergic reactions. If you notice your pet suddenly having a swollen face or ear, then call your veterinarian immediately and have Benadryl or antihistamine around at all times.
Beware of Ticks
Should your pet be exposed to ticks, ticks can carry many deadly diseases such as Lyme’s disease. Be proactive and ask your veterinarian for tick prevention so you greatly reduce your pet’s chances of tick bites and the diseases they carry. Ask your veterinarian about testing for prior tick exposure, as well, as our newer tests will screen for the more common tick diseases.
Finally, spring is a time for heartworm disease, a deadly parasite carried by the mosquito that travels through your pet’s bloodstream into its heart. Heartworm prevention is now recommended year-round in many states, as these parasites have many life cycles and can go missed for many months.
Ask your veterinarian for heartworm prevention and, again be proactive in preventing all of these springtime hazards from keeping you and your pet from having a terrific spring.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.