As the seasons shift, so too should our approach to caring for our canine companions. The changing weather conditions from spring to winter bring different challenges and opportunities for dog owners. Understanding and adapting to these changes is crucial for maintaining your dog’s health and happiness throughout the year. In this article, we’ll share ideas on how you can modify your dog care routine to suit each season’s unique demands.
SPRING: A TIME FOR RENEWAL AND VIGILANCE
Allergies and Fleas: As flowers bloom and plants sprout, spring ushers in allergy season. Dogs, much like humans, can suffer from allergies that manifest as itchy skin or respiratory discomfort. Keep an eye out for excessive scratching or unusual sneezing. Spring is also prime time for fleas and ticks. Preventative treatments should be a top priority, so consult your vet about the best flea and tick control measures.
Grooming and Shedding: The transition from winter means many dogs will shed their thick winter coats. Regular grooming is essential during this period. In the spring, be sure to brush your dog more frequently to manage shedding and to keep their coat healthy. It’s also an opportunity to check for skin issues or any hidden parasites.
Outdoor Activities: The pleasant spring weather is perfect for increasing outdoor activities. This is a great time of the year for longer walks, hikes, or trips to the dog park. However, be mindful of muddy areas and standing water which can be breeding grounds for bacteria and parasites. Always clean your dog thoroughly after a day out.
Water Safety: With the arrival of warmer weather, many dog owners are drawn to water activities. If your dog enjoys swimming, make sure it's in a safe and dog-friendly area. Not all dogs are natural swimmers, so keep a close watch and consider a doggy life jacket for safety. Water safety is especially important during high runoff times when snow is melting out of the mountains creating very high flows in rivers. Remember, river currents are always stronger than what may appear to the eye.
Seasonal Diet Adjustments: As activity levels increase, your dog may need more food or a change in their diet. High quality, healthy treats such as Mountain Wild elk and deer jerky can help nourish your dog with essential protein, vitamins and minerals before, during and after activities. Consult your vet for advice on any sort of dietary adjustments to meet their increased energy needs.
SUMMER: KEEPING COOL AND ACTIVE
Heat Safety: Dogs can suffer from overheating and even heatstroke during summer. Limit outdoor activities to the cooler morning and evening hours. Ensure your dog always has access to fresh water and a cool, shaded place to rest. Be particularly careful with brachycephalic breeds, like bulldogs and pugs, which are more prone to heat stress.
Sun Protection: Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned too, especially those with short or light-colored coats. Use pet-safe sunscreens on exposed areas like the nose and ear tips.
Paw Protection: Be mindful of hot surfaces like asphalt which can burn your dog’s paws. Test the ground with your hand; if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog. Consider early morning or late evening walks when the pavement is cooler.
Hydration and Diet: Ensure your dog stays hydrated. You might consider adding wet food to their diet for extra moisture. Watch for signs of dehydration, which include dry gums and excessive drooling.
Avoiding Heatstroke: Never leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows down. Symptoms of heatstroke include heavy panting, drooling, rapid heartbeat, and lethargy. If you suspect heatstroke, move your dog to a cooler area immediately and consult a vet.
FALL: PREPARING FOR THE CHILL
Joint Care: As the temperature drops, older dogs or those with arthritis, may experience discomfort. Keep them warm and consider orthopedic beds for better support. Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can be beneficial, but always consult your vet first.
Weight Management: Dogs tend to be less active in colder weather, making weight management crucial. Monitor their food intake and maintain a regular exercise routine. Not only will maintaining a regular exercise routine be beneficial for the physical health of you and your dog, it will also help with the mental and emotional health for both of you.
Fall Hazards: Be aware of vehicle antifreeze leaks, which are highly toxic to dogs. Also, keep an eye out for mushrooms in your yard or on walks, as some species are poisonous and can be very detrimental to your dog.
Fur Care: While many dogs grow thicker coats, they still need protection from the elements. Regular grooming helps to keep their coat in good condition and free from mats, which can hold moisture and cause skin irritations.
Shorter Days, Safer Walks: With daylight hours dwindling, ensure that both you and your dog are visible during walks. Use reflective leashes, collars, or vests for safety in low-light conditions.
WINTER: EMBRACING THE COLD
Cold Weather Protection: Some breeds, especially those with short hair, are more susceptible to cold. Dog sweaters or coats can provide extra warmth. Always dry your dog thoroughly after snow or rain exposure to prevent chills.
Indoor Exercise: Harsh weather may limit outdoor activities. Engage your dog indoors with mental stimulation games like puzzle toys, indoor fetch, or hide-and-seek. With that said, there are still great opportunities to get outside during the winter. Take advantage of those beautiful winter days and the fun that can be had with dogs during the winter season.
Paw Care: Salt and chemical de-icers can harm your dog's paws. Rinse and dry their paws after walks, and consider pet-safe ice melts on your property. Cold and icy conditions can also be very hard on their paws. Dog booties can offer additional protection for both salt and chemicals and frigid conditions.
Nutritional Needs: Some dogs may require more calories in the winter to maintain their body heat, while others, less active, might need fewer. Adjust their diet accordingly and always have fresh, unfrozen water available.
Recognize Signs of Discomfort: Shivering, reluctance to walk, or lifting paws off the ground can indicate your dog is too cold. Limit their time outdoors on extremely cold days and be sure to equip them with proper protective gear when necessary.
Regular Vet Check-ups: Consistent veterinary care is crucial for early detection of seasonal-related issues.
Emotional Well-being: Beyond physical needs, dogs require emotional connection. Regular playtime and affection are vital for their mental health, regardless of the season.
Flea and Tick Prevention: Though more prevalent in warmer months, fleas and ticks can survive year-round in some climates. Maintain your flea and tick prevention routine throughout the year.
Hydration: Adequate water intake is essential in all seasons. Ensure your dog always has access to clean water.
Fulfillment: Dogs need to be fulfilled year-round. No matter the season, be very intentional in your plan to fulfill your dog each day. At Mountain Wild, we believe that spending time outdoors provides great physical, mental and emotional health benefits and fulfillment for both dogs and their owners. We promote, encourage and embrace wild roaming adventure and creating a lifestyle that takes people and their dogs to wild places enjoying wild things.
Adapting your dog care routine with the changing seasons is vital to their overall well-being. By being attentive to their specific needs throughout the year, you can ensure that your dog remains healthy, happy, and comfortable, no matter what the weather brings. Remember, a little extra effort in seasonal care can make a significant difference in your dog’s life. We hope you enjoy each season and what it brings to you and your favorite pup!
Disclaimer: This article does not replace professional veterinary advice. Always consult with your vet for your pet's specific needs.