Spring Hazards for Pets (and owners)

Spring Hazards

While most of us in Sherwood Park are enthusiastically celebrating the arrival of spring, there are some cautionary tales for our canine and feline companions.

 Did you know that spring tends to be the ‘worst’ season for allergic dogs and cats? Once the snow mould starts flying, you know that the airborne pollens (trees, grasses, weeds) are not far behind. If your pet has allergies, be proactive and start caring for their skin before it becomes a problem. Essentially fatty acid supplementation, particularly omega 3 is thought to increase the skin’s resistance to environmental allergens and reduce the number of inflammatory cells that the body produces in response to these same allergens. It is also has a steroid sparing effect which allows a dose reduction in those pets requiring steroid therapy.  The catch is that it takes roughly 6 weeks for the skin to reap maximal benefits – so start early.

Liquid formulations available at ParkVeterinaryCenter for both dog and cats include:

-          ALLERDERM EFA-Z PLUS (ingredients include: sunflower/borage/fish oil, Vitamin E/A)

-          OMEGA 3 FATTY ACID (ingredients include: fish oil, vitamin A/D/E)

-          ULTRA – EFA  (ingredients include:  epa, dha, Lecithin, Zinc, Rosemary, biotin and vitamin E)

As we collectively shed our winter coat this spring, dogs do too and tend to get out and enjoy the great outdoors more. Ever heard of the ‘weekend warrior’? (The do-it-yourselfer who overdoes it and ends up injured) This same phenomenon happens with dogs too. Many dogs have a sedentary winter in Alberta, often gaining weight and losing muscle strength. Then the sun shines brightly one spring morning and they run like crazy at the local dog park not realizing that they are not the athlete of yesteryear and  spend the next day looking pretty sore and sad (enter ‘puppy dog eyes’).

Help you canine by keeping them active over the winter – off leash parks and doggy day cares are open all year round – and gradually re-introducing exercise after the first thaw. Bear in mind that uneven ground provides the perfect opportunity to sustain orthopedic injuries in dogs.  The most common orthopedic injury of dogs presented to ParkVeterinaryCenter is the cranial cruciate ligament rupture. This type of injury typically requires surgical intervention, so seek veterinary care early if your dog is limping for more than 24 hours.


With the spring thaw comes the unveiling of a collection of sometimes unsightly things in the backyard – moldy plants and grasses, old toys and treats, garbage, vermin, you name it. Many dogs just can’t help but give them a taste – how bad can a 6 month old rib bone really be?! So race out into the backyard and start the spring clean-up before Sparky hits the buffet.  Avoiding garbage guts (medical term for’ dog-eating-something-inappropriate- and-getting-diarrhea’) is worth the effort for both of you. 




Parasites are something that many places in the world have to worry about all the time but in Alberta we usually have to worry about only seasonally, because our cold seasons tend to kill off many parasites during winter.  However, not only are we seeing parasites in larger numbers, we are seeing different parasites and seeing them earlier in the year.


Two very important parasites that we did not routinely administer preventative medications for but which are emerging concerns include tapeworms and ticks.   Ticks carry tick borne diseases, and the main one of concern in Alberta is Lyme disease.  The tick that carries Lyme disease is the Ixodes tick, and not only are we seeing more of that type of tick in Alberta, but we are seeing more cases of Lyme disease in people and pets. 


The second emerging concern is the presence of a European strain of Echinococcus multilocularis, a tapeworm that is carried by and spread by members of the wild dog family including coyotes and foxes.  Pet dogs can also contract this parasite and carry and spread it – dogs usually do not show symptoms of problems but if humans are affected, this parasite can cause severe liver disease, and death.


Both these diseases are ZOONOTIC, that is, spread between animals and people.  In both cases, prevention is quite easy but treatment of disease is very challenging.  In both cases, prevention of the disease in pets plays a role in prevention of disease in people.






Please talk to your friendly Sherwood Park Veterinarian about our recommendations for parasite control, based on new information about emerging health concerns for pets and humans in Alberta.  This includes regular prevention against ticks for dogs, and cats that roam outside, and tapeworm prevention protocols for dogs and cats that have potential exposure to areas frequented by wild animals.