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Springtime Dog Care

A black and white collie lays in the spring grass amongst yellow dandelions

Lauren Dorey |

May is finally here and it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the long daylight hours, enjoying late dog walks in the warmer, sunnier weather. Regular physical activity is essential for keeping your canine companion healthy and happy. However, just like any other season, spring comes with its own set of challenges and potential hazards for our canine companions. From parasites and toxic algae, it's important for dog owners to be aware of potential dangers and take steps to keep their pets safe. Here are some essential tips for spring dog care:

AVOID BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Dogs can be poisoned by drinking, swimming, or playing in water that has been contaminated with blue-green algae. The algae produces toxins harmful to both dogs and humans and is widespread in the UK, found in ponds, lakes, streams, estuaries and bodies of open water. Symptoms of algae poisoning may include diarrhoea, vomiting (possibly with blood), lethargy, twitching, breathing difficulties, and organ damage which can potentially be fatal.

How to avoid toxic algae

  • Water that contains toxic algae may appear an unusual colour or have visible algae blooms on the surface. The only way to confirm that toxins may be present in the water is through testing, so it is not guaranteed that the lack of visible algae ensures that a water source is toxin free.
  • Local knowledge of the water quality in the area is the best form of prevention. 

  • It’s critical to take your pet to a vet immediately if any of the symptoms of algae poisoning are presented in your dog after swimming or drinking from unknown water sources.
  • If you are taking your dog on holiday, check for local information to find places where the water is safe for dogs to enjoy and be aware of algae hot spots.
  • Washing your dog immediately after swimming and water play can help to reduce the chance of your dog ingesting contaminated water but is unfortunately not a fail-safe method of prevention.

BEWARE OF GRASS SEEDS

Grass seeds may seem harmless but can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for your dog if they manage to embed into your pet’s skin. These tough little seeds are easily picked up, becoming stuck to your dog’s hair when walking through grassy areas. Their shape and sharp ends make them particularly adept at burrowing into your dog’s skin, causing localised pain and swelling leading to infection and abscesses.

Grass seeds can penetrate the skin on any part of the body but are more commonly picked up by the ears and paws. Your dog may shake or tilt their head or display lameness with constant worrying of the injury site. An embedded grass seed will need to be removed by your vet as the area will be very sore and there may not be an obvious sign of a wound or entry point of the seed visible on the skin.

How to keep grass seeds at bay

  • Regular grooming with a fine-toothed comb and slicker brush physically removes any seeds that have been caught in the coat and prevents your dog from ingesting them too.
  • After each walk, especially through long grass, take the time to check the inside of your dog’s ears and paws, in between the pads and toes to check for any rogue grass seeds.

  • Dogs that have a lot of hair around the ears and paws will benefit from clipping. Our A5 dog clippers are ideal for keeping your dog’s coat in an easy to maintain trim to reduce the collection of grass seeds and help you to spot skin issues.
  • Specialist toe blades can be used for detailed clipping of the hair from the narrow parts between the toes and around the feet pads.
  • Our Shomate’s are also the perfect handy cordless trimmer to keep on top of the hair on your dog’s paws and from around the face and ears.

CHECK FOR PARASITES

Spending more time outside with our dogs has the downside of leading to greater exposure to parasites such as fleas and ticks. These parasites are generally spread by wildlife, other infected pets and livestock and can be picked up by walking through woodlands and long grass. Not only are canine parasites a health problem for your pet but they can pose serious health problems for us too.

Symptoms of flea infestation are seen by your dog persistently itching and scratching, visible parasites in the fur, hair loss, allergic dermatitis and even tapeworm infestation. Once infected by fleas, your dog can bring them into your home where they can survive in the warmth all year round.  Once indoors they can thrive in home furnishings where they can be difficult to eradicate.

Ticks are also visible on your dog. They attach to the dog’s skin and look almost like a large grey coloured skin tag and can cause severe itching, lethargy, anaemia, swollen glands, paralysis, gastrointestinal problems and even Lyme disease or severe anaemia which can be fatal. Early detection of these parasites will lead to timely interventions to keep your dog healthy.

Eliminating Fleas and ticks

  • Regularly grooming of your dog allows the perfect opportunity for you to check the condition of your dog’s skin. A metal comb or flea comb are useful tools to part the hair down to the skin to check for fleas, ticks and grass seeds. Our Essentials pet grooming set contains everything you need to keep your four-legged friend healthy.
  • Run your hands through the coat to feel all over your dog’s body to detect for unusual lumps, bumps, heat or swelling. Just like grooming, doing this regularly will help you to know what is and isn’t normal for your dog.
  • Ticks can be easily and safely removed from the skin with a specialist tick removal tool.

  • If your dog has a long or thick coat, clipping can offer a quick and easy maintenance solution to facilitate grooming and make it much easier to spot potential problems.
  • Tablets and topical treatments can be purchased from your vet and need to be given to your dog at regular intervals to break the lifecycle of these pests.
  • Spray your dog with a flea and bug repellent before heading out on walks.

 

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