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Jump into spring with your dog

Original Publication Date: March 28, 2016
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

The weatherman says spring has officially arrived. Some days are almost summer-like.

With winter behind us, the warm weather encourages spring time activities for you and your dog.

Get set for outside fun by scheduling an annual wellness checkup with your veterinarian. Your pet should be current on immunizations and heartworm defense and have proper flea and tick protection.

If you and your pup spent a sedentary winter huddling as couch potatoes, you may want to find an open field where your dog can run free and explore. Casual walks around the block or in the park will help you ease into exercise. Give him a long leash and plenty of latitude to sniff and explore his new surroundings as you mosey along. A slow jog or hike may be in order if the two of you need a little challenge.

You may want to take your pup for a day at a dog-friendly beach. Warm spring temperatures are perfect for him to run and splash in the surf. He may even find another pup who wants to romp with him. Summer days may get too hot for such an outing, so pack up plenty of sunscreen for you and your pup and head for fun at the beach.

Pets need sunscreen protection, but don't use human sunscreen on them. Most human products contain zinc oxide, which is toxic to pets. Buy sunscreen specifically designed for dogs and apply it to all the areas that are normally pink, like his nose, ears, tummy, groin and other areas that are at risk. Be especially careful if your dog is white, hairless, has light-colored fur or has been shaved for the summer. Your pup can get sunburned just like you.

Like kids, dogs enjoy running through the sprinkler in the backyard. You can play a great game of tag with your pup while both of you cool off. He may also like a game chasing water from the garden hose. Be sure the spray is set at a comfortable level and avoid squirting him in the eyes or sensitive areas. You may even work in a bath for him in the process.

You may want to refresh your dog's socialization skills after long winter days of limited activity. Playdates with doggie friends get both of you out to enjoy time with dogs and their dog-loving parents.

Your dog may be well trained, but register him for a training class to hone his skills and give him an opportunity to interact with other dogs. It also gives you a chance to meet other pup parents who may be interested in a playdate in the park or a run through the sprinkler.

Spring is here. It is time for you and your dog to enjoy fun times together outside.


Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at HolisticTouchTherapy.com.