Maybe the birds aren’t quite singing or the flowers popping up through the ground (snow?) but winter finally seems to be losing its choke hold on New England. The clocks have “sprung” forward. A recent warming trend finally arrived (I was wondering if this year was to be the eternal winter) and the ten foot mounds of snow are slowly losing height. A recent rash of articles in the veterinary journals have surfaced with some unsettling trends that seem to be emerging in parts of the country that enjoyed a milder winter. So let’s turn our attention to the spring season that is now dawning.
After a winter of relative inactivity for our pets it is important to slowly reintroduce strenuous exercise. Just as we wouldn’t get up from the couch after a few months of reduced activity and run the Boston Marathon, so too, do our pets need to recondition before going full tilt. Loss of muscle tone, a few pounds of added weight, pent up energy and slippery surfaces that refreeze at night can all contribute to an increased risk of musculo skeletal injury such as cranial cruciate ligament tears and elbow injuries. Allowing your pet a few weeks of somewhat active but restricted activity can go a long way in reconditioning your pet for the enthusiastic exercise that they enjoy. Longer leash walks, short intervals of ball retrieval and occasional days of day care can rebuild muscle tissue and the endurance they will need for their resumed fair weather life.
Of course no discussion of the spring time is complete without reminder of the insects that will soon be surfacing such as ticks, mosquitos and eventually fleas. Several articles in the journals have predicted a severe tick season due to the extended hibernation of the tick population because of the snow cover. Once the ground becomes exposed the ticks surface to begin their life cycles. With the recent warm weather that will occur very soon. Standing water invites the mosquitos and once weather becomes consistently warm the fleas will reemerge. Fleas love cats and cats often don’t react much to their presence. Those of you who have been thrilled to take the winter off from topical flea and tick medications, keep your eye out for the first evidence of ticks (my dog Red is usually a pretty good sentinel and as of yet he has been clear) and then back to the Frontline Plus or whatever you choose to use as the fleas soon will follow. We find Advantage and Frontline effective and are minimally toxic to the environment. Heartworm preventative should continue for all dogs and cats, indoor and out, and be especially aware of the new outdoor danger, foreign material emerging from the melting snow. Broken pieces of car parts, glass containers, old trash, the list is endless of objects found from the “archaeological digs” that pets enjoy as the drifts disappear. Lacerated pads, gastrointestinal upsets, and unearthing of dead carcasses are all part of the spring “discoveries”. So as we all rejoice that the blizzards appear to be a thing of the past and the long awaited spring is putting smiles of our faces, lets all make sure to keep our best friends safe and out of the vet’s office. As always, if you have questions about any of these spring threats feel free to call us at the Brockton Animal Hospital. Happy Spring!!!!