The first nice days of spring have finally arrived after weeks of cold and rain. But this time of year always makes me wary for pets, especially dogs. Back when I was a young teen, on one of the first warm days in early May, my dad took our 7-month-old mixed breed puppy Rexy for a long walk. He had let him run lose to get some exercise, but the skittish dog saw some people and ran into a busy street—getting run over by a car.
There was no blood. All I remember is my dad carrying his limp body up the stairs into the house to retrieve his car keys. Rexy died on the way to the vet.
Cars kill 1.2 million dogs each year and 5.4 million cats.
The first few warm weeks of spring seems to be when people are careless, learning how to adjust after a long winter indoors, so are their pets. My many decades as a dog owner have shown me:
Spring Fever Concerns:
- More people are outside with their dogs.
- More cars are on the roads – once quiet streets have more traffic.
- Keep your dog on a leash.
- More people are in the parks with kids wanting to pet your dog.
- If you say it’s okay for one kid to pet your dog, don’t be surprised when a group of kids want to join in. Watch your dog—he may panic and bite out of fear. I don’t let kids in the park pet my dogs.
- More dogs get loose from their yards or leashes since they spend more time outdoors.
- When a loose dog approaches me while I am walking my dogs, I usually yell at it with a deep voice (this is especially important for women), and raise my arms above my head and shake them. This makes me look larger and usually works. I don’t let my dogs sniff loose dogs, since this could lead to a fight. If I want to catch the loose dog, I protect my dogs first, and then try to coax the dog into my yard, or call the police. I have called our local police many times for dogs that followed me. Yes, there is a fine to pay to get the dog back, but better a safe dog then a dead one.
- People are more likely to purchase or adopt dogs in the spring.
- Some people are first time dog owners and inexperienced. Some have to get used to a new dog. Shelters and pet shops may be more crowded.
- Dogs are unaccustomed to the warmth and can easily get overheated.
- Your dog may not have gone for many long walks over the cold months, so don’t go out expecting to do a 5-mile walk.
- Your dog may still have his winter coat and need to wait for it to shed into his summer coat.
- Dogs that have their fur shaved in the summer may need their first summer buzz cut or they will get over heated.
- There is little shade since the trees haven’t leafed out, so finding a shady spot for your dog is harder.
- Ticks come out early in the spring and can get your dog sick if he is not protected with a repellent or pesticide.
- The weather can change quickly, so don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the yard for long periods. Tornadoes and severe storms occur more often in April and May (at least in the Midwest) than in other months.
Both you and your dog have to get used to these changes, so beware of spring and its hidden dangers.
Please comment on your observations on pets and the first warm days of spring, and sign up to receive future posts by email.