Getting Prepared

… for Fall Fun With Fido

Hot temperatures and long days may not have you thinking ahead to fall; however, as a pet owner, fall provides an opportunity for you and your pet to spend quality time enjoying the cooler temperatures. Walking in the neighborhood, exploring parks, even taking road trips to your favorite areas all provide opportunities for you and your pet to enjoy the change of seasons.

There are some things to remain concerned about with your pet that will allow for maximum enjoyment and safety. Here are a few easy-to-follow suggestions that will help you avoid any setbacks that could spoil your fun! Now is the time to pull your plan together.

Start Conservatively
With the cooler temperatures, you and your pet will be excited to get outdoors and burn up some stored energy. Remember that injuries are more likely when fatigue sets in, and this is also true for your pet. Start with some regular walks around your neighborhood or the park to get back into the swing of things. Even a short jog will be nice to stretch the legs. Just remember: your pet will look to you for guidance on how intense and how long the exercise lasts. Start slowly by maintaining regular short experiences so your pet knows what to expect and can improve fitness before tackling more intense adventures.

Stay Safe
Always be aware of others are doing the same thing. Keep your pet on a leash unless you are in a fenced dog specific area. Stay alert to how your dog is reacting to his surroundings and to you and others. With shorter daylight hours, use flashing lights and reflective gear to stay visible to others, similar to what cyclists do in traffic. Remember to bring along water and take breaks when needed. Dogs still experience anxiety and excitement that will require hydration even during cooler weather.

Protect Your Pet

Dogs are investigative by nature. While walking and exploring, they typically have their nose and mouth on many different things. They also like to get into long grass, bushes and maybe even some water! If there are other animals around, they may like to say hello, sniff each other and perhaps play a bit. With all these types of activities, the pet owner is in charge of keeping their pet protected. Use external parasite prevention for things like mosquitoes, fleas and ticks that may be hiding in the brush. Check your dog closely from nose to tail to keep any hitchhiking parasites from coming home with you. Also be aware of internal parasites that are transmitted by your dog licking or eating grass, dirt or something worse! These parasites can be identified in a stool sample and managed in many different ways through discussion with your veterinarian. Use vaccines to keep your pet protected against the most commonly transmitted diseases in your area. Parasite and disease prevention is best managed by discussion with your veterinarian before any exposure takes place.

Think Ahead
Take along a basic first aid kit to clean and cover any wounds or blisters. Take your (charged) phone and the number of an animal emergency hospital or your veterinarian. If possible, plan your adventure beforehand by first scoping out the route or park. Take along a friend and their pet that have experienced what you are doing, as this may help lower your dog’s anxiety or help manage the excitement a bit. Have things waiting at home for your return, like a full water bowl, towel and some free time to rest and recover with your pet. Keep a notepad and pen available so you can make any notes on what to change for next time.

Enjoy the Experience
The ability to get outdoors with your pet only strengthens the bond between you. Look forward to it, plan it, talk about it, get excited about it and then enjoy it. Dogs are very aware of their surroundings and also very aware of their owner’s emotions. Your preparation, planning and then execution of a successful outing with your dog will give you both joy and memories that will last.

Dr. Jeff Boyer is an associate veterinarian at Boyer Veterinary Clinic, 13500 S. Western Ave., in Oklahoma City. He can be reached at 794.8504.