For many of us the long weekend was warm and sunny, and the extra time off afforded us the opportunity to spend some time outdoors with our pets. However, the change in seasons can cause some changes in your pets, and you may find you need to adapt your home and your habits to accommodate this.
A study published last year shows that the start of spring means your pet’s appetite may decrease. This may be due to the fact that they don’t need to store as much fat in their bodies to keep out the cold, and they won’t need to consume as many calories to keep warm. This is more prevalent in cats, especially those who go outdoors. Free ranging cats will also be able to find more prey animals to eat while they roam, as baby birds and rodents will be easier for them to catch. While a small decrease in appetite is to be expected, keep an eye on them and make sure their weight isn’t fluctuating quickly.
Depending on your pet’s character, the warmer weather could either cause them to become far more active or suddenly lazy. Cats in particular are likely to start lazing about in sunbeams rather than charging about. Dogs on the other hand are likely to enjoy the better weather, and take the opportunity to play in the great outdoors. Make sure to note any very sudden changes, and be careful to increase activity levels slowly so as to avoid injuries or exhaustion.
Spring flowers are lovely to look at but many of them are dangerous, or even poisonous. Ensure that you have found a way to separate any beds containing toxic plants (bulbs are particularly troublesome) from the rest of your garden, or remove them altogether. There are plenty of pet-safe shrubs and flowers you can buy to beautify your garden and keep your pet safe.
When living in the UK we have to accept that the weather is pretty unpredictable, never more so than in the spring. Over the last few years we’ve seen record high temperatures, flooding and even snow in springtime. This means that it’s important to be more prepared at this time of year than almost any other as you can’t be sure what the weather will throw at you, or your pets. When you’re out walking you should be prepared for all eventualities, such as heavy rainfall, bright sunshine and extreme weathers like gales or snow. Perhaps you can assemble an all-weather kit with compact umbrellas and rain gear, sunglasses, sun screen, a torch and emergency contact numbers in case of danger.
If you dog has any skin or eye allergies these may be exacerbated by the pollen in spring flowers. You may find that your pet’s eyes are teary or that they scratch or bite themselves more than usual. There are many topical treatments you can use to deter chewing or scratching, but it’s always a good idea to visit your vet in order to get to the bottom of it, and see if there is another underlying cause. Extreme itching can lead to hot spots, eczema and infections.
You might think that your pet’s fur protects them from UV rays, and this is partly true. However, most pets will have exposed skin, especially on their noses, around their eyes and on their bellies. Puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable, as are shorthaired breeds of pet. Do your best to ensure that your pet doesn’t spend too long in direct sunlight and use a pet-safe sunscreen if necessary. This is often available in convenient sprays or wipes.
The good weather, time spent outdoors and various other factors mean that parasitic insects and infections start to become more prevalent in the spring. Be diligent in worming, de-fleaing and applying anti-tick medication to your pet. Your vet should be able to advise you of the recommended timings and types of medicine you can use. To avoid ticks, try to avoid walking in places where deer roam, as they are particularly prolific carries of this insect. Tick bites can carry diseases so it’s important to prevent them as far as possible. If you do find a tick on your pet (or yourself for that matter) do not try to suffocate it with petroleum jelly, this advice is outdated and can be dangerous. Ticks’ mouths have locking parts to enable them to cling on while feeding, so you have to be careful when removing them or their teeth can get stuck in the skin and cause infection. Use either very fine tweezers or a tick removing tool to carefully pull it out of the host’s skin. Keep the tick in a sealed and dated plastic bag in your freezer. If your pet becomes ill within the next few weeks, take the tick to your vet for analysis. This could massively reduce the time needed to diagnose and treat the illness.
If you provided your pet with a warmer bed for winter, now might be the time to find them something a little lighter. Beds which are too hot can cause eczema or dry skin, and can eventually cause dehydration. What’s more, they become breeding grounds for bacteria. Investigate mattress-style beds which allow your pet to nest and get comfy without overheating.
Spring cleaning is typical in many houses as we do what we can to blast away the winter cobwebs. However, many cleaning products are dangerous to our pets if they are accidentally ingested, so be sure to keep these out of reach and to thoroughly wipe down/mop any surfaces with fresh water to get rid of as much residue as possible. Also avoid leaving surfaces too wet as your pet may slip and injure themselves. Put any used cloths directly into the wash or the bin so they won’t be chewed or played with as this may result in swallowing cleaning product left on the cloth, or accidentally ingesting parts of the cloth itself. This could lead to intestinal blockages, which can be extremely dangerous.
Many dogs like to stick their head out of the windows of moving cars to feel the wind on their face. However this can have tragic consequences if your dog is hit by a moving object or jumps through the window and into the road, so it’s best to keep them away from open windows. It’s also very important to never leave your dog in a parked car as the temperature increases very quickly. Dogs die in hot cars, and you’d be amazed how little sunshine is needed to turn a vehicle into a greenhouse. It’s always better to leave your dog at home than in your car.
Do you have a spring routine for your pet? What changes do you make about the home? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook.