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Q&A: Pet health, outdoors

Editor’s note: Due to some omissions in a Q&A in the April 22 HealthFirst, we are running this column by Dr. Charles DeVinne.

Spring is an important season for pet owners as animals become eager to spend more time outdoors. The following is intended to help spread awareness about springtime concerns for pet owners.

What shots or treatments do you recommend for pets in the springtime?

The number one infectious concern is Lyme disease. This is the most prevalent disease that there exist good vaccines for. Dogs should have had a vaccination for Lyme disease within the last year. Dogs and cats should both be vaccinated for rabies for several reasons. One, to protect against getting the disease if exposed to a rabid animal. Two, to avoid more involved quarantine should the pet injure a person.

Are there options for pet owners who don’t believe in western medicine (vaccines)?

Yes there are. Although it is a New Hampshire state law to have your dog immunized for rabies, a waiver can be obtained from the state veterinarian if a medical condition warrants avoiding vaccination. As for other immunizations, there are laboratory tests that can detect titers for some infectious diseases if the owner wishes to know their pet’s immune status.

What types of wildlife do pet owners need to be most concerned about come spring?

The most dangerous animals in the region for cats and dogs are bears, coyotes and fishers. The most problematic are porcupines. We see a lot of porcupine exposure on rainy days…often when pets are unaccompanied outdoors. When a pet gets quilled, timely removal can be a concern. If quills are in a heavily muscled or in the chest areas, they should be removed promptly.

What other things should pet owners be wary of as their pets enjoy the nice weather?

Chemicals used for lawn and garden care can be dangerous to pets. Owners should read labels and ask questions about safety when purchasing the products. Dogs and cats groom their feet, and therefore, get exposed to what has been applied to the ground.

Many plants and especially those with bulbs are toxic. Some Lilies are extremely toxic, including flowers, stems and bulbs.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats; be careful with the Easter leftovers.

Is spring the most important season to have your pet checked out by a vet?

Spring is not necessarily the most important season to have an annual exam, but it is a good time to renew strategies for parasite control. Flea, tick and heartworm (spread by mosquitoes) prevention become more important as the temperature outside rises. Ticks are most active in New Hampshire in spring and fall.

Anything else pet owners should be aware of?

It has been a long winter. Do not over do exercise with your pet on the first nice days! Orthopedic injuries are common in the spring, as many pets are not accustomed to rigorous physical activity. Owners should be aware of their pet’s abilities and take into account age prior to strenuous play.

Charles DeVinne is a doctor of veterinary medicine who has been in the pet health care field since 1975. DeVinne established the Animal Care Clinic, located on Concord Street in Peterborough in 1989. Originally from western New York, DeVinne moved to the Monadnock region in 1983. DeVinne lives in Peterborough with his wife, Heather Peterson, and their children, Peter and Larkin.

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