Dog Sense: Springtime safety

Beware these 4 hazards that can mean a trip to the vet—or worse

Spring is an exciting time for dogs. They can finally run free, swim, roll in rotting things and eat treasures previously hidden by winter’s cloak. While these activities are fun (for dogs), they can also be dangerous. Here’s how to keep Fido out of harm’s way.

Garbage

Dogs will eat anything that smells good to them, such as dead animals, discarded food and animal poop (coyote-in-heat scat is my dog’s favourite). I give my dog a broad-spectrum dewormer every spring, and again in the fall, to cover off most of the nasties. It’s best to avoid running dogs in areas where there’s copious human garbage.

Natural Hazards

Rotting spring ice, even relatively thick ice, may not support a dog’s weight. And if a dog falls through, the ice will continue to crumble under his scrambling paws, making escape difficult. As well, the sharp ice can quickly shred a dog’s shins and paws. Then there’s flowing meltwater, which can be deceptively fast. Combine this with cold temperatures and your dog can tire quickly and possibly drown. Stay away from these high-risk areas on springtime walks.

Wildlife

Warming weather is a cue for the likes of hungry skunks and racoons to arise from their winter naps. These animals can carry diseases such as rabies, so make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. The best protection from infection, however, is avoiding close encounters. Stay alert and keep your dog close.

Traps

Trapping seasons run late into the spring across Canada. When walking your dog in areas where trappers may be active, carry cable cutters and a multi-tool to free your dog should it get caught in a snare. You should also know how to open a body-grip trap with a five-foot length of rope. To see video that shows the method, click the link below.