15 Things You Need to Get Your Dog for Spring
You’d probably consider your dog a fairly low-maintenance member of your family. Even if you supplement his diet with healthy people food, he’s pretty easy to feed. He’s happy whether you’re taking him for a walk around the block or bringing him on vacation. And at bedtime, he probably sleeps just as well on the floor as he does in your bed. But just because your dog is low-key doesn’t mean he won’t need a few things to get ready for the warmer weather.
When winter turns to spring, your dog will spend a lot more time outside on hot, sunny days. And he might encounter outdoor pests. Or be exposed to common diseases. He might get seasonal allergies (just like you). And come across new hazards that pop up in your yard, on your neighbor’s lawn, and at the park. Want to get your dog ready for spring? Read on to check out some things you’ll need.
1. Flea and tick medication
Forgot to give your dog his flea and tick medication over the winter? Then, spring is the perfect time to start again. The AKC notes fleas can infect your dog with tapeworm. And ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, canine ehrlichiosis, and canine anaplasmosis (plus other serious conditions). Once your dog is old enough, you should use a monthly preventative medication to keep ticks and fleas away. But you should also regularly check for fleas and flea dirt. And after you visit a wooded area or spend a lot of time outside like Sophie Turner and her dog Zunni, you should check your dog over for ticks.
2. Vaccines and preventative medications
Spring is also the perfect time to refresh your memory on common doggy diseases — such as heartworm, Lyme, rabies, and leptospirosis — as cases tend to ramp up with warmer weather. Check your records or ask your vet to make sure your dog is up to date with his vaccines. And make sure you’re administering other medications, such as heartworm prevention, on the schedule your vet recommends. Prevention notes not all vaccines need to be administered yearly. So whether you’re a new pet owner like Justin Bieber or have had your dog for years, you should keep records, and check with your vet to see what your dog needs this year.
3. New tags
Unsure whether your dog’s tags are current? Check them this spring as you’ll probably be out and about more with your dog. Make sure they’re valid and include your current address. If you’re getting new tags, make sure to follow Pet Health Network’s recommendations on what you should — and shouldn’t — put on your pet’s tag. You should use your phone number, your address, and a message, such as “I’m microchipped!” But you shouldn’t put your dog’s name on the tag. “It would be helpful for someone with good intentions; however, a person with less noble intentions could use that information to entice your pup away.” Your dog might spend most of his time cuddled up with you (like Zendaya’s puppy). But you still need to keep his tags up to date.
If your dog doesn’t yet have a microchip, consider getting one this spring, again because you’ll probably be venturing away from home with your dog more often in the nice weather. The AKC explains microchips come highly recommended by veterinarians, breeders, and animal-rescue organizations. And that goes whether you have a new puppy like Olivia Munn or a mature dog. A microchip can help you find a lost dog or even track down a stolen dog. If your pup does have a microchip already, make sure the information on file is up to date. (An old phone number or address won’t help you in the event that your dog does wander away.) Find out where your dog will be taken if he gets lost. And know which humane society or police department to call.
5. New leash and collar
Hate thinking about what would happen if your dog got lost? Then, do your part to prevent it from happening. Check your dog’s leash and collar to make sure they’re still in good shape. Make sure a plastic buckle isn’t cracked or bent. And ensure that a metal buckle isn’t corroded. The same thing goes for the hardware on your dog’s leash. And if the material of either the leash or collar seems too frayed or worn out, head to the pet store and replace them. Even if your dog won’t venture far beyond your apartment (or your dressing room, in the case of Demi Lovato’s dog), you should always have a safe and secure collar and leash on hand.
6. Obedience or agility classes
Do you want your dog to learn some new tricks this year? Many obedience and agility classes start in the spring. So now is the time to find one and sign up. You’ll have plenty of daylight hours to practice as the days get longer. Just remember to take it easy. If your dog has been cooped up inside all winter, he’s probably gotten a little bit out of shape (just like you). Take things slow as you both get back in shape for the summer. And perhaps skip the long hikes, and stick to the backyard like Gwyneth Paltrow’s family dogs when the weather is just starting to warm up.
7. A doggy first aid kit
Planning to go hiking with your dog like Emmy Rossum? Or thinking about taking him on a weekend trip? Then, you should make sure you pack a first aid kit for your dog. The Humane Society of the United States advises starting with a first aid kit for humans and then adding pet-specific items to it. You’ll need a pet first aid book. Also write down the phone numbers for your veterinarian, the nearest emergency veterinary clinic, and a poison control center or hotline. Make sure you have documentation of your dog’s rabies vaccination status and copies of important medical records. And pack some self-cling bandages, which stick to themselves and not to fur.
8. A safe fence
Another way to make sure your dog stays safe (and close to home) as he enjoys the great outdoors like Hilary Duff’s dog? A safe and secure fence. But a fence that hasn’t been properly maintained lands pretty high on the list of backyard dangers for your dog. Walk the entire perimeter of your yard in the spring, looking for any places where your fence is compromised. You don’t want sharp wire or splintering wood to hurt your dog. And you also don’t want an escape artist to find his way out into the neighborhood through a broken panel.
9. A chemical-free lawn
Also on the list of hidden dangers in your backyard? Commercial fertilizers, organic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides. These products all help your lawn grow and keep weeds and pests at bay. But they can be very dangerous for your dog. They irritate your dog’s respiratory and digestive systems. And some are even linked to higher incidences of certain kinds of cancer. The bottom line? You should probably forego the chemicals if you spend a lot of time outside with your dog like Taylor Swift. Or at least keep your dog off the lawn for a few days after it’s been treated.
10. A safe backyard and garden
As you’re walking around your lawn and garden, making plans for spring and summer, take your dog into account. Many ornamental plants can poison your dog. Think azaleas, dahlias, and English ivy. And common flowers, such as buttercups and daisies, are toxic to canines. Even your fruit and vegetable garden may pose some dangers. Tomato greens can poison your dog, as can chives, mint, tarragon, onions, sweet peas, and many fruit trees. Ensure that you don’t have any dangerous plants growing in your yard. (Even things you didn’t plant can pop up in the spring.) And before you plant anything new, check whether it can hurt your dog. And if, like the Rock, you have a pool in your backyard, make sure you supervise your dog carefully.
11. A shade tree, umbrella, or canopy
Another surprising danger in your backyard? The sun. Dogs can get sunburned. And they can also develop skin cancer. That means your dog needs a shady place to relax when he spends the day outside. Most yards have a little bit of shade. But if yours doesn’t, you can plant a shade tree. Alternately, you can set up an umbrella. Or you can put up an awning or canopy to provide a little bit of cover. Whether you’re hanging out by the pool, like Marc Jacobs and Neville, or just have greenery in your backyard, both you and your dog will enjoy the extra shade. Also along those lines, make sure your dog has access to fresh water to prevent overheating.
12. New toys
Most people think it’s OK to let their dogs play with sticks. But sticks can cause numerous injuries for your dog. (Think splinters, pierced tongues, and punctured organs.) Dog toys offer a much safer alternative, and spring is a good time to take inventory and see whether any toys are too beat up to last another year. Try the pet stores — or even the local dollar store if you can find dog-safe options — for replacement toys you won’t mind your dog taking outside. Even if you’re just spending time with somebody else’s dog, like Kit Harington, make sure you have safe toys on hand.
13. Pet-safe cleaning supplies
It’s called “spring cleaning” for a reason. Warm weather gives you the perfect opportunity to give your home a deep clean. But when you’re stocking up on cleaning supplies, make sure you choose natural and pet-friendly products. PetMD reports you should check the ingredients list. Some of the things to look out for? You should avoid phenols, phthalates, formaldehyde, bleach, isopropyl alcohol, and perchloroethylene to make sure your cleaning products won’t hurt your dog. That way, your dog can hang out inside with you, like Karlie Kloss’s pup, without encountering dangerous chemicals.
14. A safe walking route
Even if you dog-proof your home and yard, you still need to protect your dog’s safety when you walk him around the neighborhood. Hazards that were hidden by snow can come to light in the spring. (Buried dog waste and trash pose real dangers.) Furthermore, puddles and ponds can host bacteria and parasites. And lawns at your neighbors’ houses or even in public parks might be covered in dangerous fertilizers and pesticides. Your dog probably wants to explore everything. So make sure he stays safe in the process. Whether you’re walking your dog around your neighborhood or on the beach — like Lauren Conrad and her husband, William Tell — make sure you watch out for any hazards.
15. A date with the sitter or kennel
Planning to take some long vacations this summer? Then, you should use the spring to get your dog used to the sitter or kennel who will take care of him while you’re gone. Take a short trip to see how your dog does. Then, you can feel more confident traveling for a longer period of time. Furthermore, if you plan to take your dog with you on your summer vacation (like Katy Perry), you should get him used to riding in a car during the spring. That way, everybody will be less anxious about it come summer.