As spring starts blooming, pet owners often have lots of questions about how to keep their furry friends healthy during this lively season. To help answer those questions, we're turning to Dr. Chris Vanderhoof, a vet with plenty of experience.

He graduated from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) at Virginia Tech in 2013 and also got a Master of Public Health degree there. After completing a tough internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, he's now working as a general practitioner in the busy Washington D.C. area. Dr. Vanderhoof has some great tips to make sure your pets stay happy and healthy this spring.

Stop Googling - Ask a Real Vet

1. How does spring affect pet allergies, and how to relieve symptoms?

While environmental allergies can occur year-round, in the spring we see a lot of pollen. Pollen can be highly allergenic to sensitive pets. Antihistamines like Benadryl or Zyrtec can be helpful for runny noses or sneezing. Skin allergies are not as responsive and often require prescription medication. Some extra baths or wiping the feet after being outside during a high pollen count may help remove pollen in contact with the fur and skin and lessen sensitivity.

2. What dietary changes are recommended for pets in spring?

In the wild, food seeking behaviors and calorie needs may increase in winter with shorter days because of the need for more calories to maintain body temperature and less daytime to do it. In warmer months, the opposite occurs with lower metabolic demands. We know from research that these primitive wild instincts are still present in our pets. However, we also know pets may get less exercise in winter and activity level with their humans may increase as it gets warmer in spring. If your activity level goes up a lot with your dog as it warms, make sure you’re keeping up with their calorie needs.

3. How to protect pets from tick and flea infestations during the warmer months?

Flea and tick prevention medications are the most proven way to avoid infestations on pets. You can also have your yard treated but make sure the products used are considered safe around pets. At the minimum, keeping grass and brush mowed short will limit tick presence. On walks, you can also avoid areas that are heavily wooded or have tall grass where ticks have a heavier presence.

4. Are there specific vaccinations or preventive medications advised for pets in spring?

For dogs, the Lyme vaccination is very effective against tick transmission of Lyme disease. Vaccinating dogs against leptospirosis is also important as this transmissible bacterial disease may be shed in the urine of many different wildlife and rodents who are out and about more in spring. Rabies vaccine is also very important to keep up to date with more wildlife interactions occurring during warmer months. Flea, tick, and heartworm parasites are problems year-round but more of a problem in warmer months, so always keep prevention medications up to date.

5. How does changing daylight impact pet behavior, and how to manage it?

For pets, they may have similar difficulty adjusting to time and daylight changes like we do. But often, this is because of our own change in schedule that they have to adapt to. If your activity schedule changes, especially for walks and feeding times, try altering your pet’s schedule slowly by 15 minutes every couple of days to help them adjust slowly if possible.

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