Spring fever: A seasonal Q & A

Dr. Anna Dunton-Gallagher / Photo

Dr. Anna Dunton-Gallagher
OFF THE LEASH

I know there is grass some places but I still have snow at my house. Can I can wait on starting tick prevention until it melts?

This actually comes up a LOT. The answer is, probably you shouldn’t wait. Ticks don’t actually need grass to be active, they just need temperatures above 36 degrees. Ticks are very commonly found in brush or tree areas as well. If you pay attention to small trees and brush, they always have a clearing around the stem. Ticks easily crawl up these and onto our dogs when it is warm, even with a snow cover.

IF you have just a well-cut lawn and there is absolutely no vegetation of any kind visible above the snow, and your dog NEVER leaves this yard, then you might be able to wait for tick prevention. However, with these last few confusing winters plus a boom in the tick population, it isn’t a risk I advise. We have so many breakthrough cases of tick-borne diseases that happened in the winter months that I have become a bit gun-shy and recommend 12-month protection now for any pets that step foot out the door.

In the spring my dog always gets covered in mud, and when I can’t get it all off he starts itching. How can I prevent this?

Unfortunately, the only way to prevent this is to get a treadmill and keep your dog inside. Sadly, mud season is real, and depending on the year, can last for a long time. There are some options to help keep dogs cleaner though. If you have a long-haired dog, clipping is always an option. This is the season when all my Goldendoodles come in with their stylish short spring clip. If clipping is not an option, dual grooming works. Wash any mud off them, dry them well, and then do a second dry and brush after their undercoat has had time to dry. This will help ensure that moisture and dirt that is trapped close to the skin have a chance to come out. When all else fails, try walking on blacktop for a while, where the mud will be minimal.

My dog has already started itching this year, but no pollen is even out yet. Is it still spring allergies?

This can be a hard question to answer, and a veterinary exam can always help us rule out other issues, like yeast infections, bacterial infections, and mites. That aside, allergies have already started this year. I can attest to that, as my eyes are now bright red when I wake up. We have started seeing our seasonal-allergy dogs itch already. If you have ruled out other issues and have something that typically works for them, go ahead and start it. We might be in for another long allergy year.

My cat feels the warm air and is desperate to get outside. How can I keep him entertained inside?

People aren’t the only ones that get cabin fever! Cats that stay indoors start smelling new scents outside and want to explore. If you have an indoor-only cat, consider letting them onto a porch area. If you don’t have a secure area, harness train them! Few things make me happier than cats on leashes.

If your cat simply can’t get outside, work up some new indoor games to entertain them. These can include new toys (catnip is always a plus), chase games, food finding and learning tricks. I also love to start providing cats with cat grass this time of year. You can buy this pre-grown or in seeds to plant. Cat grass helps cats get some extra nutrients and fiber, and is always a welcome addition to cat food.

Dr. Anna Dunton-Gallagher

Dr. Anna Dunton-Gallagher is a veterinarian at All Points Animal Care in Rutland. Have a question on this or any animal health topic? E-MAIL: petdocanna@gmail.com

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