A Safer Springtime

Dr. Courtney Campbell shares five ways to protect your pet as the weather heats up.
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dog stretching

Everybody loves a stretch in the sun. Just make sure his tick meds are up to date first!

Tips & Ticks

Ticks are active any time temps are above 39 degrees, but they pose the greatest risk in spring and fall, Campbell says. His advice for keeping the tiny pests away from your furball: First and foremost, use a tick preventative year-round. (Talk to your vet about oral and topical options.) “For day-to-day safety in the spring, run your hands all over your pet every time he comes back from an area you know is inhabited by ticks,” Campbell says. “Pay extra attention around the head, ears, neck, and feet.” If you find a tick, use tweezers to pull upward with steady, even pressure, then flush the tick down the toilet and clean the bite area with soap and water.

Itching For Answers

If you thought your allergies were bad, wait until you hear about Fido’s: Dogs can get allergies by both inhaling allergens and absorbing them through their skin. In other words, things get itchy. Watch out for signs of allergies, like chronic yeast infections, ear problems, lots of feet chewing and licking, or more-than-normal scratching anywhere. If any of these start happening, talk to your vet. Regular allergy shots, steroids, antihistamines, and omega-3 fatty acid supplements can all help.

Safe Travels

On sunny days, it’s tempting to roll down the car windows and let your dog stick her floppy ears and tongue out in the breeze. Campbell advises against that. “Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections,” he says. “Pets riding in cars should always be secured in a crate or wear a seat belt harness designed specifically for them.” And if you’re out running errands with your dog, know that spring temps can be just as dangerous as summer ones: “In less than 10 minutes, the temperature inside your car can climb to life-threatening levels.”

Natural Disasters

The great outdoors are ruff (heh) and filled with natural hazards. Some plants, like daffodils, tulips, and hyacinth, can be poisonous to dogs. Bee stings can cause allergic reactions. Fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides are toxic if ingested. And sticks “can splinter or cut a dog’s mouth and cause a severe choking hazard,” Campbell says. It’s not possible to protect your pet from every danger, but keep a watchful eye on him while he’s outside so you can quickly call to him if he’s sniffing around in something he shouldn’t be.

"It's not possible to protect your pet from every danger, but keep an eye on him while he’s outside so you can call to him if he’s sniffing around in something he shouldn’t be." —Dr. Campbell

Cleaning House

“Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, so be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pet’s way,” Campbell says. “Almost all cleaning products, even all-natural ones, contain chemicals that can be harmful to pets.” Cleaners with acidic ingredients are especially worrisome, as they can cause corrosive injury or chemical burns, so be extra cautious when working with rust removers, toilet bowl cleaners, and drain cleaners. “If you think your pet has ingested even a tiny amount of any cleaning product, call the Pet Poison Helpline as soon as possible.” The number is 855-764-7661. Go tape it to your fridge!

This article originally appeared in our Summer 2021 issue. Get the magazine here.