Springtime And Your Pet

Tips for keeping your pet fit, healthy, itch and parasite free all Spring long!


29 August 2020

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc (Hons)

Wouldn't you know it - the frost has thawed and sunny Spring is here! All across Australia we see flowers a-blooming, birds a-chirpin', and days a-warming. It's the perfect season for frolicking outdoors with your four-legged friends.

But it's important to remember that fleas and other nasties are at their worst this season, and fresh new grass and pollinating plants can irritate sensitive skin. Read our tips for keeping your pet healthy, happy and safe this Spring!

Pet Circle's vets talk about their top 5 recommended pet products for Spring. View more helpful videos on Pet Circle's Youtube Channel.

Skip to a section:

1. Which Parasites are a risk in Spring?

- Which Parasite Preventatives should you use in Spring?

2. Skin Allergies: Why do they flare up in Spring?

- Spring Skin Care Tips

3. Spring Fitness Tips

1 - Springtime Parasites

Which Parasites Pose a Risk in Spring?

1. Ticks: Very high risk. Paralysis Ticks - are one of the most important Australian parasites due to their abundancy along the heavily populated Eastern coastline, and the deadly paralysis condition they create. Ticks are at their worst during Spring and Summer due to their breeding season. This seasonal 'tick explosion' can vary each year, and can begin as early as late July. (In 2020, vets are already seeing a spike in tick activity due to unusual weather conditions earlier in the year.) To check whether ticks are presenting a risk early this year in your area, ask your local vet clinic.

Where are paralysis ticks found in Australia?

The paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is found along the eastern coastal strip of Australia and is most abundant from August to March. Cases of tick paralysis as far south as Melbourne have been reported in recent years.

This map shows the approximate distribution in Australia (in the red shaded areas).

Source: Toxinology.com

2. Fleas: High risk. Fleas love the warm weather and breed most actively during Spring. Fleas can be very difficult to see in your pet's fur - in fact, most people will never see them. You may instead spot 'flea dirt' (which is actually flea faeces!) within the fur over your dog's rump or under your cat's chin. Make sure to keep your pet protected all Spring long with a reputable flea preventative like Nexgard, Bravecto, or Revolution Plus. Learn more about fleas and their life cycle.

3. Intestinal worms: Moderate risk. Unfortunately, pesky worms never rest! These 'evergreen' parasites pose a risk all year round, and can lead to debilitating illnesses particularly in young animals. Depending on the species, worms are usually caught in the soil or passed from dog-to-dog via direct contact. Learn more about the worms of concern in Australia.

4. Heartworm: Moderate-high risk. The transmission of heartworm is at its worst in Summer due to its mosquito-borne method of spread, however mozzies can certainly start to ramp up in Spring - so it's vital to be on top of your pet's heartworm prevention. Plus, with such a slow life cycle, pets requires consistent treatment with no breaks, in order to protect against any immature larvae and keep their bodies heartworm-free! Learn more about heartworm and the best prevention for dogs.

5. Mites: Moderate-low risk. Dust mites tend to flare up in Winter when our windows are closed and homes are stuffy, however some species such as Demodex or ear mites may pose a risk all year round. Learn more about the different species of mites.

Which Preventatives are Best for Spring?

During Spring, depending on your area, tick prevention should be included in your regular parasite regime. This is especially vital for pet owners living within 100km of the Eastern coast line of Australia (from Melbourne to the tip of North Queensland!).

However, some animals may not require tick prevention. In many parts of Australia (particularly West Australia and South Australia), tick prevention may not be necessary due to its distribution along the Eastern side of the country. Likewise, cats who live 100% indoor are unlikely to require tick prevention. Ultimately, we recommend checking with a vet in your area about whether your pet requires tick prevention during winter. (And if you aren't sure, it's certainly fine to use tick prevention just in case!)

Our Top Combination Products for Dogs & Cats

Nexgard Spectra

Nexgard Spectra is one simple monthly chew, which protects against ticks, fleas, intestinal worms and heartworm.

Sentinel

The Big 5 is a handy combination pack consisting of a flea and tick chew and a broad spectrum wormer.

Revolution Plus

Revolution Plus is a monthly spot-on treatment for cats that covers ticks, fleas, heartworm, and intestinal worms.

Bravecto Plus

Bravecto Plus for cats protects your kitty against ticks, fleas, intestinal worms, and heartworm, and only needs to be given once every 2 months.

Shop All Parasite Prevention

2 - Springtime Allergies

Why do skin and ear issues flare up in Spring?

Spring brings a lot of new plant growth. Flowering and non-flowering plants, grasses, pollens, and weeds can all cause your pet to itch, scratch, and develop a range of skin conditions. As the weather becomes warmer and your pet spends more time outdoors exploring their environment, they may react to new plants and pollens in the air.

'Atopy' is the general term used to describe an allergy to things in the environment like pollen, dustmites, grasses, etc. Some dogs with atopy might only be allergic to one or two things, but others might be allergic to literally dozens of allergens. This is similar to humans - ever noticed how some people who are allergic to cats are often also allergic to dust and pollen too?

Unfortunately, unlike changing your pet's diet or keeping flea control up to date, avoiding pollen and grass is not a feasible task. Unless your pet is kept in a quarantine zone, pollen and dust exposure is inevitable.

Pets with atopic dermatitis can have intradermal skin testing with a veterinary dermatologist to identify the cause of their allergies. This is usually followed by a course of immunisations to desensitise the pet against the cause of the allergy, helping to control symptoms. If intradermal testing and desensitisation are not effective or available, other medications and methods can be used to try and minimise the side effects, or strengthen the skin barrier.

Spring Skin Care Tips

How can you strengthen the skin barrier at home?

Because it can be difficult (if not impossible!) to reduce your pet's exposure to springtime grass and pollen, your best defence may be to improve the strength of your pet's skin barrier. Stronger, healthier skin means that your pet has a tougher physical barrier to the causative allergen, and also reduces the inflammatory response. This can be achieved by implementing a few easy changes at home.

1. Provide beneficial oils into the diet, to help nourish the skin from the inside out. You can either swap over to a skin care diet or a fish-based dog food, or you can buy omega 3+6 fatty acids in a pump bottle, which can be added onto the food directly. Natural Animal Solutions Omega Oil is a great product for this.

Royal Canin Maxi Dermacomfort

This highly palatable dog food is enriched with an exclusive nutrient complex that helps support the skins barrier role, including oomega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

PAW Blackmores Fish Oil

Paw Blackmores Fish Oil contains a concentrated blend of liquid fish oil, a rich source of omega fatty acids, EPA and DHA in a formula specifically designed for pets.

Savourlife Salmon Dog Food

This salmon-based grain-free formula is not only great for the skin, but 50% of profits go to help rescue dogs.

Natural Animal Solutions Omega Pump Bottle

This handy pump bottle allows you to add pure omega oil directly onto the food, making it perfect for pets who require another specific diet.

2. Provide beneficial oils topically - it might seem strange, but you can actually get omega oils and pop them straight onto the skin. PAW Essential 6 pipettes allow you to put oils directly onto your pet topically like a flea treatment.

3. A nice soothing lotion - not only can moisturising conditioners provide a physical barrier, but they can help nourish the skin cells so they are stronger.

See our top conditioners below:

3 - Get active in the sunshine!

This Spring, take advantage of the sunshine and get active with your best friend. Just like for humans, exercise helps your dog burn off some extra calories and kick-starts their metabolism. Why not shed that winter weight together?

If you need some extra inspiration, why not splash out on some fun new walking accessories? Just as a new set of active wear can encourage you to hit the gym, a fab new walking accessory may be the 'dog walk inspiration' you need.

For cats, keep them active by encouraging them to play regularly. Provide your kitty with plenty of toys, and don't forget to rotate through them as cats can get bored with the same toys after a while.

1. Walking and running.

Get outside and enjoy longer days of Springtime sunshine! Every dog needs a daily walk, regardless of their breed. Walking is important for their physical and mental health. Not only will your dog benefit from the physical exercise, but they will also love the one-on-one time with you! The required walking time per day depends on your dog's breed and fitness level.

2. Swimming.

Image: @aquadoghydrotherapy

Now that the days are getting warmer, you can start to think about swimming again! Did you know that 1 minute of swimming burns the same amount of calories as 4 minutes of running? Plus, swimming is a form of non-weightbearing exercise which is perfect for protecting your pet's joints - AND the cool water prevents overheating in high Aussie temperatures.

3. Interactive Playtime

Playtime is particularly important for cats. Schedule in at least two 10 minute play sessions each day with your feline friend. Not only will your kitty benefit from getting moving, but they will love the one-on-one time with you!

The Best Interactive Toys for Cats:

Catit Senses Super Roller Circuit

Ideal for keeping home alone cats busy, the Catit Senses Roller Circuit is interactive and will keep any indoor cat entertained for hours.

Frolicat Bolt

This interactive Laser toy provides a moving laser spot for endless fun and chasies.

AFP Flutterbug

Cats go crazy for this butterfly toy, which provides natural and unpredictable movements.

Go Cat Go Teaser Snakey

Teasers can help your cat exercise their body and mind. The fluffy streamers help stimulate natural instincts and encourage play.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

Games to play with your cat in isolation

Premium pet food: is it worth it?

The Best Flea and Tick Treamtents for Cats

Dental care for cats

Springtime Allergies: How to Stop the Scratching

What is the best flea and tick treatment for dogs?

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