The sun is a bit warmer. The snow is gone (almost). The slow thaw begins. The ground softens, the grass greens and new sprouts push their way up to meet the sun. Spring promises many things… new blossoms, longer days, warmer weather and real and chocolate bunnies.
Your dog knows it too, and he’s up earlier to get outside and begin exploring the awakening world. Are you ready for spring? Here’s a checklist for you and your dog to keep everyone safe, healthy and happy:
How Does Your Garden Grow?
- How encouraging to see perennial flowers coming up all over the yard! Are you aware of which flowers are toxic to dogs? The ASPCA website lists hundreds of potentially deadly flowers, and some of these are poking their pretty little heads through your soil this morning. Daffodil, dahlia, begonia, lily of the valley, iris, hibiscus, carnation, and primrose all have toxic properties, as can those handsome hostas and hydrangea! Keep your dogs away from those flower beds, or replant your beds with nontoxic beauties.
- Fertilizing flowers, shrubs and lawns does wonders for their growth, but not for your dog’s! Know exactly fertilizers are used on your property, and keep you dog away from your neighbors’ lawns whenever you see those little flags that say “we just fertilized.” When possible, opt for organic methods to fertilize your plants and lawn.
- Be sure that you choose a mulch that is safe for dogs. Avoid mulch made from cocoa hulls, and opt for cedar or pine shavings instead. Be on the lookout, too, for mushrooms that often appear in the spring, especially on newly laid mulch and wet lawns. Some mushrooms are toxic to dogs.
Beware of Pests!
- As you notice the birds chirping and winging above you, don’t forget that other less melodious creatures are lurking both above and below too. Fleas, ticks, and lots of biting insects (spiders, flies, etc). It’s wise to have your lawns treated for flea and tick infestation twice a year. This will give you and your dog a fighting chance to beat the bugs. Remember that pesticides and herbicides frequently are toxic to dogs, so keep your canines out of the yard for a safe period after application.
- Get a head start on the peskiest of pests, the mosquito! Have your vet do a blood test to confirm that your dog is free of heartworm. Purchase a new supply of heartworm preventatives (and check that any left from last season haven’t expired). While you’re at it, purchase your flea and tick preventives and check that your first aid kit is well supplied. Note to self: buy Benadryl.
- Keep your dog away from citronella candles, oil burners, insecticide coils and any other bug killing accessories you select.
- Give your vacuum cleaner a break, and brush your dog twice a day in the spring to control shedding. Spend time brushing your dog outside in the breeze. Don’t worry if you don’t catch it all as it wafts away: the birds won’t mind the downy undercoat to line their nests.
- If you’re an allergy sufferer, you dread the arrival of spring more than a wintry nor’easter. Some dogs suffer from pollen allergies too. If your dog is itching, give him a soothing bath and ask the vet for advice.
Put a Little “Spring” In Your Step
- Add an extra walk in your daily routine. Your dog will think it’s his birthday when he sees you go for his leash a second or third time in one day! Springtime exercise will help shed some of those lazy winter pounds (from your dog, too). Be sure to dry off your dog’s feet after walking on moist grass or wet pavement to rid him of pollen, mold spores, fertilizers, pesticides and other potential irritants.
Want to take your exercise to the next level? Learn how to go running with your dog>>
The Search is On
- ‘Tis the season of egg hunts! Don’t let the Easter Bunny (or your kids) leave any chocolate rabbits, filled eggs or marshmallow chicks around the house for your dog to find. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and candy can make your dog so sick and/or wound up he’ll be hopping around the house like a rabbit! Read more about chocolate and dogs>>
Looking for more spring and Easter tips?