Keep your dog healthy and happy on your outdoor adventures this spring!
Dogs, just like us, can definitely suffer from “cabin fever” during the cold winter months where outdoor activity and exercise are typically at a lull. And, just like us, they revel in their outdoor time. Whether you enjoy long, rugged hikes with your dog or even just simple walks around the neighborhood, here are a few tips that will go a long way to help you keep your dog healthy and happy during your outdoor adventures this spring.
1. Start Slow with Exercise
You know the feeling the day after a gym workout (when you haven’t been in a while) or after a long hike when you aren’t used to it; sore, painful muscles and joints. We humans have a tendency to overdo physical exertion when it’s beautiful out…especially early in the year after a long winter.
But we need to remember that dogs can (and will) suffer in the same way if they overdo it. And they almost always will if we allow it. The same things that make our dogs so awesome – their exuberance and willingness to follow us on our adventures – is the same thing that can hurt them. So, we need to ensure that we are protecting them. The key to protecting them is prevention. It’s already way too late if we wait until they are limping or panting excessively, etc.
Prevention is the key to protecting your dogs from overdoing it this spring.
Start slow. If you haven’t walked much together since last fall, start with just 15 or 20 minutes around the neighborhood. Or, if hiking, make it a point to cut it short the first few times out. You’ll find that a little bit of prudence up front will allow you to quickly work up to longer and more intense adventures with no ill-effect on your dog (or you!). A good rule of thumb is to stop while the dog is still looking energetic and fresh.
2. Establish Your Flea and Tick Program
Flea and tick season brings about an internal struggle for most dog owners, and we understand that fully. Owners want to protect their pets from the dangers of lyme disease and other issues brought upon by fleas and ticks, yet aren’t always comfortable with many of the products that are applied directly on the skin (or even ingested) that contain pesticides.
We can certainly give you our thoughts and experience with the different options for flea and tick control – even some of the more natural alternatives.
But for the purposes of this article, we just want to stress that you have a plan and implement it, whatever it may be. Here is what we would consider a well-rounded plan that includes a couple of things you may not have considered (and are FREE!).
First, acquire and use the preventative product(s) that you deem proper (top spot applications, sprays, collars, etc). Make a calendar/reminder and put it on your fridge (it’s way too easy to forget the timing or to forget all together). Forgetting, or improper overdosing, can be dangerous. A simple reminder for yourself is a free – and important – part of your plan.
Also, make it a practice to check your dog regularly during normal cuddles/petting time. This is a great thing to do in the evenings in front of the television. With just a little bit of extra attention and thoroughness when giving your dog affection, you can catch the majority of ticks or fleas before its ever an issue.
Lastly, make sure to spend just 5 minutes doing this “after hiking/walking” procedure. Brush your dog and do a quick check for ticks. This simple and quick process will typically catch a tick (or two) as they are still crawling around on the dog, before its ever a problem. Plus, even a quick brushing is very healthy for your dog’s skin and coat, not to mention it keeps your house cleaner. A win/win/win.
Many dogs love to swim and it can be a great form of exercise as it tends to be a good workout without the impact on joints/hips. There are always certain things to be beware of for swimming safety such as underwater objects, sharp rocks, loose fitting collars or harnesses, etc.
Specifically for early spring, however, we want you to be especially aware of water temperature. Remember even on the beautiful, sunny and warm spring days, the water may still be a significantly colder. Water takes much longer to warm up than the air and if it’s still too cold it could pose a danger to your dog. He/she could freeze up if the water is too cold, and that can turn dangerous, increasing the risk of drowning and shock. Most dogs are comfortable in water temps that would feel very cold to us, so this tip isn’t meant to scare you but please be aware.
4. Leave the Sticks
Many dogs love fetch, and almost every dog loves to chew. Therefore, sticks found on the ground tend to be very attractive. We absolutely encourage fetch (and other games to play with your dog) and allowing your dog to chew is critical for his/her physical and psychological health. But please don’t use sticks for either.
Sticks pose a very real (and common) danger for dogs. Choking hazard, internal puncture wounds and bacterial infections to name a few. Instead you can give your dog a great game of fetch and countless hours of safe chewing with durable, purpose made dog toys.
Of course, some toys on the market could pose just as much danger to your dog as sticks can. If you have questions, we would love to discuss the appropriate options that you can try with your pet.
We hope you enjoyed this article. There is a never ending list of great tips and information that will help improve the quality of life for you and your dog, and we hope you will stay tuned as we build our library of articles. And as always, our favorite way to spread this great information is to talk to you in-person at The Better Beagle.
Did you find these tips helpful? Do you have other tips you’d like to share with us and our community of pet lovers? Please let us know in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading and see you soon at The Better Beagle.