After months of short days and long nights, spring finally feels like it’s right around the corner! The astrological start to the season doesn’t happen until March 20th/21st but there are still plenty of ways you and your pets can get ready for the longer days and warmer weather. For some dogs and cats, springtime means losing their winter coats and the threat of fleas and ticks is back. For chickens, the season can mean cleaning out the coop, getting new chicks (if you want to add to your flock), and making sure that your coop is predator-proof. Longer days and nicer weather can mean spending more time outside with your animals so here are some tips to make the season much more enjoyable!
Get Ready For Shedding
Depending on what breed of dog or cat you have, springtime can bring a ton of shedding. Dogs and cats naturally lose their winter coats during spring to prepare for warmer weather but there are ways to manage shedding without it becoming overwhelming! Regular brushing can help prevent loose fur from getting all over your house and car and there are several different types of tools that can help different types of coats. There are, for example, grooming gloves that you can wear while petting your dog or cat, which makes getting some of that dead fur off of your pet so much easier if they don’t like traditional brushes. For breeds like Domestic Longhaired cats, Great Pyrenees dogs, and Siberian Huskies, there are other tools that can help remove loose fur from their undercoats, as they are going to need a little more help. Undercoat rakes, de-shedding brushes, pin & bristle combo brushes, and even dog blow dryers are all tools that can be incredibly helpful.
Be Aware of Hiking Dangers
Spring is a wonderful time to go hiking! In the Pacific Northwest, there are so many fun hikes that you and your dog (or even cat!) can go on but there are some things to keep in mind. If possible, have water on hand for you and your pet while hiking to avoid dehydration and avoid going on hikes when it’s particularly hot. Likewise, it’s important to know what you and your pets are physically capable of. Puppies are, for example, not able to do long, strenuous activities, as too much exercise can damage their still developing skeletal systems. Senior dogs are also often unable to do intense hikes for long periods of time. If you’re just getting into hiking, make sure to slowly get into it and build you and your pet’s endurance.
Use Parasite and Worm Prevention/Treatments
Dealing with fleas is definitely one of the worst parts of having pets and for chickens, mites and other parasites can make life miserable for you and your birds. One of the best ways to help prevent mites and fleas is actually diatomaceous earth! This powder may not look like much but it does a great job at killing mites. By regularly spreading a small amount of diatomaceous earth around the coop and where your chickens take dirt baths, you could prevent an infestation.
Additionally, if you have a garden or yard, there are some plants that act as a natural repellant to mites and fleas, as the smells from these plants are unappealing. Lavender, catmint/catnip, peppermint, marigolds, rosemary, sage, and chamomile are all examples and they’re also great plants for pollinators too! Cedar chips or cedar flea repellent sprays are also great natural repellents but it’s also important that you don’t overdo it and overwhelm your furry friend’s nose.
There are flea prevention/treatment medications, like topical applications, collars, and treats, for dogs and cats that spend any amount of time outside. For topical applications, it’s important to avoid any sort of water activities for your pets in the 48-72 hours after applying it. These treatments take time to be fully effective and things like baths and swimming can wash off or slow down the medication. Additionally, letting your dog swim in bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and ponds in the days after getting a flea treatment can actually cause adverse environmental effects.
Likewise, heartworm medications are also vital during warmer months, particularly for those living in areas with higher concentrations of mosquitoes. I do feel like warning you all that doing research into heartworms will more than likely bring up hearts that have been infected with these worms and to call it off-putting or disgusting would be an understatement. The things to know about heartworms are that dogs are infected through mosquito bites and treatment can be expensive and complex.
While the actual activity of ‘spring cleaning’ your house could be done at any point in the year, spring cleaning your chicken coop is a great way to get ready for warmer weather while also doing some basic maintenance. Spend a nice day going around your coop to see if there are any holes, loose boards, leaks, or any other issues. Repairing holes, replacing doors, and other repairs can help make a coop a bit more predator-proof. This time of year can be a great way to also clean out the coop and nest boxes before adding in fresh bedding.
Cleaning isn’t only for chickens, as this can also be a great time to go through your other pets’ toys, beds, and other items! If you’re able to, consider doing a deep cleaning of your pet’s beds and blankets. A thorough cleaning can help remove built-up fur, dander, bacteria, and any possible flea eggs or parasites. Mild/unscented detergents should be used to avoid causing any issues for your pet, like skin irritations or intense smells.
Make Sure Your Pets Are Microchipped!
More time outside can be a wonderful thing but it can also mean an increased chance of your dog or cat getting lost. Microchipping is a great way to make sure that if your pet is found by a good samaritan and taken to a vet or shelter, they know how to contact you. It is possible to update your information on the microchip if you should ever need to do so and this article from Preventative Vet has some tips on how to do so. Additionally, it’s also good to license your pets if your city or county requires it, as doing so is not only legally required in many places but it’s another way to help reunite you with your dog if they get lost.
Ultimately, spring is a wonderful season and there are plenty of things you can do to help prepare your pets for the change. What are your plans for this time of year? Let me know in the comments!