7 Steps To Welcome Spring

The weather has been crazy, some days warm, some days wet, and some days with a cold bite. However, the calendar claims Spring has sprung here in Mississippi which means getting outside, sprucing up the yard, planting the beds, and firing up the grill.

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Kirby loves the outdoors spending every chance he gets wandering around investigating new plants sprouting up from the ground and checking all the changes going on. Here are our tips and the guidelines we use for a happy, safe spring.

1. The weather is finally beginning to warm up from the cold winter so now is the time for Kirby's haircut. He gets regular trimming of his face and feet year round but that hair has grown into a curly thick coat. Much too hot for this boy. Over time I have perfected "The Kirby cut" to shorten the hair from his neck to his tail. Remember that cutting the coat too short can invite sunburn so don't let that trim turn into a shave. I'm very lucky Kirby doesn't shed but many breeds have an undercoat that begins to naturally shed. A really good brushing is essential to speed along its removal.  I have heard great results have been acheived using the furminator so if your dog has a double or thick coat this handy tool could be a lifesaver.

2. I love putting clothes on Kirby. He's just so darn cute in a polo or jammies! When it starts warming up those clothes are packed away. No amount of cuteness is worth a heat stroke. I do, however, pull out his EzyDog life vest. A quick wipe down and check for proper fit and any tears means he's ready for those swim events he dearly loves. I keep it in his travel bag because you just never know when an opportunity might present itself and I really hate when I have to say no to that earnest face. I swear I can see him go from a smile to total dejection.

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3. We live in Mississippi so it's a year round battle against fleas for us.  I dont use the spot on products and flea collars on the market since they have been documented to cause potentially lethal harm which you can read about here.  In fact I am so afraid of them that I opt to let a vet student apply the required product to any foster we may be caring for. For Kirby, I choose to use natural products for both his safety and my peace of mind. We are currently using Sentry Natural Defense which has essential oils that repel those nasty creatures. I can recommend Tropiclean Neem shampoo which I bathe him with in the summer months.  I also sprinkle Diatomaceous earth in the flower beds and near the doorways. Another great weapon in this on going battle is Dawn dish detergent for killing present fleas on the dog and in the grass. We don't have a problem with ticks but I do check him regularly when bathing and brushing his coat. If you live near wooded areas check every day with a nice massage, a great bonding time for you and your dog.

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4. Its time to clean up the yard which means cutting grass, trimming shrubs and preparing beds and gardens. Pet proofing the yard can mean the difference in having a fun time or racing to the vet because Kirby has ingested a poison or been injured. We do fun pictures of Kirby with lawn mowers, rakes, and such with a high level of security in place. We take precautions to guarantee his safety. Mowing or weeding requires he be inside. We don't use any chemicals in our beds which he could at some point ingest.  No plants known to be dangerous to dogs grow in our backyard except the tomatoes which are surrounded by wire caging.

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5. Spring cleaning the home can also have dangerous outcomes so we stick with non-toxic products. I'll put together a list such as using clorox to knock down spider webs.  Keep any dangerous products out of harm's reach.

6. Allergies abound during spring for many pets causing watery eyes, sneezing, and itchy skin.  Its recommended to take walks in the early morning or late at night when pollen counts are at their lowest. A quick wipedown with a wet towel of the body, and especially the feet, can remove most of the pollen. One of the best remedies, or rather preventatives, is using locally harvested honey which helps build an immunity in the dogs system. Kirby enjoys his daily1/4 teaspoon.

7. My chunky monkey always gains some extra weight during the winter months but becomes more active as the days warm up and get longer.  We keep fresh water on the deck for him and engage him in short bursts of activity keeping an eye on his breathing. Panting is ok. Heavy panting means he needs to take a break inside with the air conditioner. Heat stroke can happen quickly so keep an eye out for the early signs. NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE IN A CAR ON A HOT DAY - 15 MINUTES CAN MEAN A SLOW AGONIZING DEATH.

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So there you have it. Our spring has sprung list. Let me know if I left off something or you have a better suggestion because inquiring minds really do want to know!