Written by Hollie Williams, founder of Lawoofs of Devon
Spring is coming
It may not quite feel warm enough to believe it, but the fact is, the days are getting longer and the sun is coming! The 20th March was in fact the official first day of Spring.
Already daffodils are starting to sprout and the shops are full to the brim with Easter Eggs, and with that there is a feeling of renewed hope riding in the air.
Spring is a wonderful time of year and a perfect time to get out and about with your best fur-riend.
With this in mind have you thought about how the change in season might affect, not only your pooches health, but how you might care for them too?
What you need to know about walks
There are a few things we would suggest you consider to make sure you keep your furry friend safe and happy this Springtime.
Even in Spring it can get surprisingly humid, so never leave your dog in a hot car, and always be sure to carry water for your dog.
Dogs can dehydrate quickly and in hotter weather and there are often less opportunities for them to grab a quick drink from a puddle, or dash of rain. You can combat this by making sure to offer them a drink often to keep them hydrated.
When the sun shines we can’t help but head outside, and naturally we want to take our dogs with us.
If you're anything like me, in the dark, rainy cold of winter, your walks get a little scaled down.
So spring often means more time outside exercising than our dogs are used to over the winter period. Instead of charging back out on long hikes, you can try to build up their exercise gradually to avoid injury from doing too much, too soon.
Talking of sunshine, on sunny days, like you, dogs are in danger of sunburn too! Before you go out, try to make sure you identify any exposed areas, for example around the nose, mouth, ears and anywhere the hair is short or fine.
Then you can apply regular sunscreen to those areas, and keep your dog in shaded areas where possible.
Being Devon based, we understand that there is nothing as good as a stroll in the countryside with your pup.
At this time of year however, it is prime breeding time for live stock and most will have new-borns, especially lambs. Even the most well behaved dog can get out of control around young livestock. The safest way to avoid this is to always keep your dog on the lead around livestock. For more information on the countryside code, check out our blog Dog walking in beautiful Devon.
Finally, before you head out into the sunshine, did you know it is a legal requirement for all dogs in the UK to be microchipped and display a tag with the owners address and contact details? Make sure your dog is chipped and tagged and your contact details on the microchip database are up to date.
What you need to know at home
You've probably noticed that all dogs, but especially puppies, are naturally inquisitive. If you are taking advantage of the fine weather to do a Spring clean out, or DIY, make sure you keep any tools and rubbish safely out of reach of nosey snoots.
As soon as it gets a bit warm, many of us Brits (me included) suddenly feel the need to become amateur gardeners. While you will be tempted to try and protect your new seedlings, try to avoid use slug pellets in any areas you allow your dogs to roam. They are designed to be tempting and appealing, but are fatally toxic to dogs.
It is also especially important for those with gardens to be aware of lungworm. Lungworm can be contracted in so many ways. For example eating slugs and snails, or simply from drinking water from a place where a slug or snail has been. To avoid contamination don’t leave toys in the garden overnight, and regularly clean out any water bowls, or areas of standing water your dog may drink from in the garden.
Dog theft alert!
I am sure you have heard many stories of local dog thefts in your area recently. There has been a rapid increase in dog thefts over recent years, so now more than ever it is important to do whatever you can to keep your dog safe.
Gardens are a great space to utilise in Spring, allowing your pup to get some exercise in a safe space. But make sure you check your fencing and gates are secure to prevent your dog being stolen. Always keep an eye on your dog in the garden as dog theives are often opportunistic and are known to take pups right from their own homes.
Remember wherever possible, try to avoid leaving your dog tied up outside a shop, as it leaves them vulnerable to being stolen.
For the safety of you and your pup, always try to walk in populated areas, or buddy up with a friend or local walking group. Try to avoid walking alone, or in more deserted areas where you could be at risk.
What to look out for at Easter
It is easy to get caught up in the Easter celebrations, more chocolate than any person could reasonably consume in a year and depictions of adorable baby bunnies and chicks everywhere you turn. But it is important to remember how dangerous this time of year can be for dogs.
Chocolate is poisonous for dogs, and in large quantities even fatal. Some symptoms to look out for if you suspect your dog may have ingested chocolate are vomiting and diarrhoea, muscle twitching, tremors, fitting, increased heart rate and blood pressure.
If you are at all unsure, always take advice from your vet.
Hot cross buns
Grapes, and dried grapes such as raisins, currants and sultanas are all highly toxic to dogs so anything containing them should be kept well out of reach of your dog. In severe cases they can cause kidney failure and various stomach problems for your four legged friend.
As beautiful as blossoming hedgerows can be, many flowers are toxic to dogs and can cause a variety of stomach problems, or even be fatal in some cases. For a full list of flowers and their toxicity click here.
Easter baskets are great fun for kids and very versatile, often being filled with anything from small toys, to sweets and obviously chocolate eggs. Unfortunately, all these things pose serious problems if your dog was to get hold of it.
As well as the sweets and chocolate toxicity issues as explained above, the small toys, foil wrappers and filler material like straw and plastic grass are easily swallowed by pets. These pose a high risk of causing digestive obstruction, which can lead to expensive surgery!
What to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned
Finally if you think that there is a chance your dog may have eaten, or come into contact with something potentially harmful, do not hesitate, consult your local veterinary practice immediately.
Spring does not need to be feared, quite the opposite in fact. By being aware of your dog's needs, and keeping safe it is a time to enjoy, explore and create memories with your pup that will last a lifetime.