Are you the kind of person who loves to hike every weekend? Or simply likes to go for a picnic in the park on a sunny day? Have you considered taking your dog? Dogs love the outdoors!
Being outdoors is crucial to the health and wellbeing of both humans and pets. Sun shining and flowers blossoming, the signs that Spring has arrived. The perfect time to bond with your dog! Nosework, agility, hiking, camping, frisbee or simply a walk in the park, your dog will love it all! The bad news is that parasites also love sunny days and are hiding everywhere waiting for you and your dog.
Ticks like to hide in tall grass or bushes and wait for their victims. When a person, dog or other animal brushes past they latch on by sinking their mouthpiece into the skin. Whilst biting they can transfer other parasites or bacteria into the blood stream causing diseases such as tick bourne encephalitis and Lyme disease.
Prevention is key to avoid all this so protecting your dog with products that repels and kills ticks is essential. Ask your vet which is the best product to use on your dog according to where you live. There are lots of different products like collars, spot-on and pills.
Once you have your dog protected against parasites it’s time to have fun!
Nosework: working with your dog to help them search for a specific odour. Once they’ve tracked it, reward with a treat or a toy. Rewards are a great way to keep your dog engaged.
Hiking: if you have an active dog this can be a good choice though don´t forget to pick a trail that fits your dog’s physical abilities. Start with an easy trail, maybe an hour in duration and monitor your dog’s energy at the end. If your dog still has energy left you can increase the time for the next hike. Make sure your dog responds to commands or you’re best taking them on a long lead to consider other hikers, cyclists and dogs.
Camping: make sure your dog is used to sleeping in tent!
Frisbee: head to the park and test your dog’s ability to catch the frisbee in flight. This is a sport anyone can try, dogs and owners alike.
Agility: agility courses can be a way of getting your dog moving. In this sport dogs are trained to complete an obstacle course using commands and rewards. You can try this in your garden or in the park.
Walking in the park: allowing your dog to play with other dogs (if they get along and like it) or playing fetch with him are also good activities to do at the end of the day or the weekend.
When you come back home don’t forget to check yourself and your dog for ticks. Even the best antiparasite products can take some time to kill ticks so it’s safer if you remove them as soon as possible. Always use tweezers to remove the tick intact – fingers can squash them leaving part of it inside the skin. Check your dog’s ears, paws (especially between the claws) and belly. You can teach your dog to enjoy this inspection by training them to give you their paw and getting them used to having their ears and belly checked by rewarding with treats or play.
And now take one of these ideas and enjoy sunny days safely!
Author: Marta Vieira, DVM