As anxious as we all are to usher out winter and welcome spring, it certainly has not been a painless transition this year. March seemed like February and February seemed (at times) like early April. But finally mother nature appears poised to give us a break…..she skipped us on the last snowstorm and when the sun comes out it finally has some warmth to it. So what about our four legged companions? Do we have anything to worry about from a standpoint of their health? Although worry may be too strong of word, a healthy respect for what can lurk in our animal companion’s world is a good idea. What should be watching out for? Here are a few tips to avoid springtime pitfalls.
1. For pets that spend time outdoors, there are many things lurking somewhere in those snowdrifts. Broken bottles, ancient food remnants, partial cans of chemicals and carcasses of wildlife are only a few of the hazards that can surface as the snows recede. Lacerated pads, gastrointestinal upsets, intoxications have already been seen in our practice during this thaw. And the melt is only beginning.
2. Winter into spring (as well as fall into winter) is often the most common season for cats to develop urinary tract obstructions. If you have a feline friend who has a history of urinary tract disease, this is the time to be hyper vigilant. Ensure that correct diets are maintained (prescription or otherwise) and that water sources are always fresh and plentiful. If you notice any change in litter habits, such as more frequent trips to the box, inappropriate urination or multiple frequent but quick visits, it may be time for a trip to your local vet. Remember that urinary obstruction can be life threatening.
3. Spring Cleaning Alert! This may be a little premature but as spring marches forward, spring cleaning, gardening and automotive projects and maintenance take shape. What do all these things have in common? CHEMICALS!! Insecticides, antifreeze, cleaning projects and even cleaning rags are all potential targets for your little guys and girls. The younger the pet, the greater their imagination for what might be edible.
4. Kitten Heat Alert! That cute little kitten that you brought into your house around the holidays, should be just about sexually mature. So the screaming, howling, rolling, gyrating hyperactive at times female cat inhabiting your house, is probably in heat. If you have delayed neutering or spaying, now may be the time.
5. Heartworm, flea and tick Alert. If you have gotten a bit careless about heartworm or parasite medications this winter, given there was two feet of snow on the ground, time to wake up. Before long the parasite assault on your pet will be full on and we will all be picking off ticks.
In spite of the above cautionary tale, spring is indeed around the corner. The days are getting longer, Nor’easters less numerous and the birds are beginning to sing. Enjoy the awakening, the smells and the daylight. Have fun with your pet companions.