Spring Care Of Pets
Spring has sprung and now is the time to groom your pet to remove the remains of its winter coat! You should also watch for the hundreds of fleas and ticks that are organising their assault on your pets.
These nasty parasites are on the march now - and have you noticed that mosquitoes are all abuzz? They are ready to spread heartworm disease. Even flies and worms are set to worry your pets. But pounce on prevention and you can be done with the cure!
The hair of the dog
Have you been seeing tumbleweeds of cat and dog hair wafting over the floor lately? It's a sign that you need to get into grooming to make your pet more comfortable and to prevent further fur balls making a mess in your house.
At present, you should be grooming your pets on a daily basis to remove their winter coat.
There is a fascinating range of products designed to make grooming easier. The KONG ZoomGroom is a nylon brush with large, soft tongs which gently strip the dead hair from your pet's coat. An added advantage of the ZoomGroom is that it can also be used to massage shampoos and flea rinses into your pet's coat - just the thing when you are planning your pet's Spring clean!
Also, look for "slicker" brushes. These brushes have dual level pins on a cushioned pad with a curved head. The long and short pins work at two levels to remove the mats and the dead hair that make your pet shabby.
For long-haired pets or those with thick hair, now is a good time to have them professionally clipped. They will feel so much more comfortable after the removal of their hot coat of heat-trapping hair. Clipping will allow them to cool down much easier and will lessen the chance of heat stroke during the summer months. Ugly mats of hair that trap foreign bodies and that pinch your pet's skin will also be removed.
Remember to check your pet daily for grass seeds, especially around the feet and ears, and search for ticks if you are in a tick-prone area.
Hop into flea control
Now that the warm weather is with us, the creeping, crawling, gnashing, nasty, nibbling, blood sucking, ferocious Aussie flea is on the prowl!
Thankfully, there is a large range of state-of-the-art flea control products available which are effective and safe. Note that certain products can be used on dogs and not cats; you may need to pick certain products if your dog is in close contact with cats.
Tablets and chewable treats are a popular way to treat fleas. Bravecto is a chewable tablet that protects dogs from both fleas and ticks for several months at a time. NexGard and Simparica are monthly chewable tablets that also provide effective protection from fleas and ticks. NexGard Spectra, Comfortis Plus and Sentinel Spectrum are monthly chews for dogs that not only control fleas but include a heartworm preventive and an intestinal wormer; Sentinel also controls tapeworms.
Capstar is a tablet that kills fleas quickly on both dogs and cats. It has no residual action and is useful if you want to quickly eliminate a new flea infestation before using a long term preventive. Comfortis is a monthly chewable tablet that kills fleas on your dog or cat in 30 minutes and is not affected by swimming or being bathed.
Many pet owners still use 'spot on' preparations which are easy to use, safe and effective. These products, such as Frontline Plus, Advantage, Advocate and Activyl, come in small vials that you squeeze onto your pet's neck once a month. Frontline Plus also controls paralysis tick on dogs for up to 2 weeks. Advocate is a multi-purpose product that combines imidacloprid (Advantage) with moxidectin so it kills fleas, as well as prevents heartworm, hookworm and roundworm in dogs and cats, plus whipworm in dogs, and controls lice and ear mites in cats, and mange and lice in dogs with monthly application.
Flea collars have made a comeback in recent years and provide convenient and long-lasting protection. Seresto protects dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from fleas for up to 8 months and protects dogs and puppies from ticks for up to 4 months. Kiltix collars control brown dog ticks, bush ticks and fleas for up to 5 months and aid in the control of paralysis ticks for up to 6 weeks.
When it comes to flea rinses, Permoxin and Fido's Permethrin Rinse are popular. It can be used weekly on dogs or you can make into a spray for daily use. Used once per week, it will also control ticks. Permoxin and other products containing permethrin should never be used on cats.
Make mosquitoes buzz off
Mosquitoes spread heartworm disease and are much more prevalent in warm weather - not that they are a scarcity in winter either. Many pet owners incorrectly stop their pet's heartworm preventive in the cooler months thinking that their pet is safe. This is not so.
If you have missed a dose of your pet's heartworm preventive, contact your vet and ask for a heartworm test. If it shows that all is clear, place your pooch (and puss cat) onto a heartworm preventive medication such as HeartGard or Valuheart, or a multi-purpose product that controls heartworm such as Advocate, Comfortis Plus, Interceptor, Milbemax, NexGard Spectra or Sentinel.
Many dog owners use a preventive heartworm injection available from vets because, while other alternatives are very effective, they are also very easy to forget.
Flies are a worry
While talking about things that won't buzz off, a variety of flies also cause pets problems. Dogs regularly suffer from fly bite dermatitis on their ear tips. Similar problems can occur when flies are attracted to discharges that are present around the eyes, mouth and nose of pets. This is not such a common problem with cats.
The stable fly is the most common culprit. It rasps away at the ears of dogs and causes crusty, bleeding sores to develop.
This problem can be prevented by spraying the dog with Permoxin as needed, or by mixing the Permoxin with Vaseline, baby oil, or a mixture of both, and smearing that onto the dog's ears. Permoxin is toxic to cats so don't use it on dogs that live with cats.
Various fly repellent ointments and sprays are also available.
Around worm control
Lastly, the beginning of a new season is always the best time to ensure your dog and cat have been wormed. Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms are a problem for dogs and cats during the warmer months and dogs can also be infected with whipworms.
As a routine, adult pets should be wormed every three months. Look for an all-wormer medication, such as Interceptor, Popantel, Drontal, Milbemax or Endogard, as this is likely to eliminate all types of intestinal worms your pets may have. Profender is a spot-on intestinal wormer for cats.
If your pet is on a monthly heartworm/intestinal worm combination, it may still be necessary to treat for tapeworms every three months (or 6 weeks in hydatid areas). Check the product label to see if your chosen product controls tapeworms.
Choosing the correct combination of parasite control preparations for your pet can be complex. So be sure to consult with your veterinarian for a parasite control solution that will keep your pets up to scratch.
Shed the winter kilos
Many pet owners think that a bit of extra weight is not a concern. However, overweight pets are predisposed to serious conditions including arthritis, pancreatitis, diabetes (especially with cats) and even cardiovascular disease. So, if you think your pet is overweight, it's time to talk to your vet about a weight reduction program.
Having attended to the above, you will not be left wondering whether your pet will weather the warmer weather well!
Contributors: Provet Resident Vet
By Dr Cam Day BVSc - Last updated