Everybody loves spring — when the weather starts to get warm, it’s fun to be able to get outside and enjoy the fresh air with your pet. Springtime, however, can bring along many opportunities for injury or disease. Here are the most common spring injuries in dogs and what you can do to prevent them.
Ligament injuries, sprains, and strains all fall under the broader umbrella of soft-tissue injuries. These injuries are very common in the springtime. If a pet has been sedentary all winter, their muscles will be considerably weaker, and that means there is a much higher risk he will tear something when she starts running around the park for the first time in a while.
If your pet has a soft-tissue injury, he might be limping, favoring one leg, or lying in a strange position. According to veterinarian Dr. Becker, a CCL tear is the most common type of soft-tissue injury. The CCL, or cranial cruciate ligament, is in the knee joint and often becomes strained or ruptured in an out-of-shape pet. If the ligament has torn completely, the only treatment is surgery — so prevention is key.
During the winter, try your best to help your dog stay active, whether that means braving the cold for a game of fetch or finding somewhere indoors like a pet-friendly gym to take your daily walk. That way, your dog won’t sleep the winter away; he’ll stay active and strong, and when the weather gets warm and he wants to run and play, he’ll be able to go as hard as he wants without fear of an injury.
You can also encourage your dog to start slow in the spring. Even if you make an effort to exercise during the winter, you probably still won’t be as active as you will be in the spring and summer — so your dog will probably have stiff joints and a low muscle tone when it starts warming up. To make sure he doesn’t injure himself, start small; walk around the block once instead of a few times, and play gentle games of fetch to ease back into things.
Cervical disc and neck injuries come from collar strain. If you’ve ever been out on a walk and someone has made the comment, “Who’s walking who?”, your dog may be at risk for cervical disc and neck problems. When a pet pulls forward on the leash, the collar tightens against her neck, applying pressure to the neck and cervical area and potentially resulting in injury.
If your pet has sustained an injury of this type, you might notice her yelping in pain when you touch her head and neck. Lowering her head to eat or drink will also be painful, and she might be lame in one of her front legs.
Again, start small — take your dog on short walks and practice walking on a leash, just in case she forgot her good manners over the winter.
What to Know
When the warm weather has arrived, you might be heading to the dog park for the first time in a while. Other dogs will be, too — and if a dog gets aggressive, your pup might come home with a nasty bite.
In addition to other dogs, wild animals such as foxes and hawks tend to appear in the springtime. These animals have viruses that they might transmit to your dog through a bite. Meanwhile, spiders and bees can also pose a springtime risk for our pets.
If your dog spends lots of time outside when the weather gets warmer, then taking steps to prevent disease from ticks can also be important.
Make sure your pet is caught up on his vaccinations, and teach him how to act around other dogs; if you’re at the dog park and a dog begins to act aggressive, leave immediately. If your dog does get bitten, you should also leave the park immediately to prevent further conflict, and call a vet. And don’t be part of the problem — if your dog has violent tendencies, skip the dog park and go for a walk alone instead.
When you’re walking your dog, keep an eye out for wild animals. Don’t leave small dogs outside alone. And again, make sure your dog is completely up-to-date on any vaccinations, and consider taking out an active dog insurance policy.