dvm (67)After a long winter, your dog would enjoy some special attention from the most important person in its life. The days are getting warmer, longer and better for enjoying your canine companion. The following are a few tips for ushering in spring with your dog.

Lose a few. Chances are Fido has gained a few pounds over the winter. If you run your fingers over the sides of your dog’s chest and cannot easily feel ribs, there is a weight problem. Leaner dogs, just like people, tend to have fewer health problems related to weight especially as they get older. The amount of food eaten is the key to weight control. Most dogs need much less food than we think they do. Consult your veterinarian to determine how much food your dog really needs. Prescription diet foods are available for those dogs that just cannot shed the pounds. Certain medical conditions can cause obesity. Your veterinarian is best equipped to diagnose any of these conditions.

Exercise! Most of our New Year’s resolutions include getting more exercise. Exercise is good for our dogs too and will help with weight loss. Dogs enjoy spending time with their people and physical exertion. Get out and walk or jog with your dog, but start slowly. A 15-minute walk is a good start for a dog that has not exercised all winter. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of the activity over several weeks until the desired level is reached. If at any time your dog begins showing signs of difficulty breathing, coughing, lameness, pain or any other unusual symptom while exercising, stop and have him checked out by your veterinarian.

Tame the Mane. The warm winter coats are coming off our dogs too. Brushing, clipping and bathing are necessary spring chores especially if a dog has medium-length or long hair. Failing to groom can lead to matted hair, sores and parasites that can become expensive to remedy. If you choose to have a professional groomer do the spring cleanup it will be worth every penny. Poor hair coats, missing hair, rashes and itching can all be signs of diseases that may be more than just skin deep. Have your veterinarian check out any of these problems.

Dr. Russell N. Ueckert has been providing veterinary care for animals in the Big Country for over 19 years. This article was produced in part with contributions from Veterinary News Network. For all of your veterinary needs look to www.bigcountryvets.com.