Spring is coming and those reminder postcards from the vet’s office start piling up in the mail. It’s spring check up time. What should and shouldn’t you do for your animal companions?

Just because you have a postcard stating your pet needs a long, laundry list of vaccinations, doesn’t mean it’s true or necessary. As your pet’s advocate, it is important that you do your homework and understand what they do and don’t need. Vaccine protocols have been changing dramatically over the last few years; fueled by research being done at the University of Wisconsin, by Dr. Ronald Schultz. There is increasing evidence that immunity provided from most vaccinations lasts longer than one year. And repeatedly vaccinating every year has been associated with immune-mediated disorders in dogs and certain types of cancer in cats. “Why, when you know from personal experience that life-long immunity exists for many human vaccines, do you have great difficulty believing a canine vaccine can provide life-long immunity?” Dr. Ronald Schultz

There are many good reasons for a spring check up beyond vaccinations. You and your vet can discuss your pet’s overall health. Your veterinarian can examine your pet’s teeth, ears, eyes, skin and coat condition, heart, and weight. Parasite issues should be discussed. Keep in mind, many products used for controlling parasites are pesticides and should be used judiciously.

After a long winter, spring arrives and we all want to get outside and have fun. It’s a great time to have our canine companions join us for a run, a walk in the woods or a swim at the lake. You may have been working out at the gym throughout the cold winter months, but has your dog been keeping fit? Before you take a 3 mile jog with your dog, it is your responsibility to view and respect your dog as an athlete. Any exercise program you start with your dog should begin gradually and should be worked on consistently. Exercise and conditioning is not just a weekend activity.

As you approach spring time, be your pet’s advocate. Remember that spring veterinary check ups should be viewed as wellness visits, not a reason to administer excessive vaccines and pesticides. Take the time to appreciate your dog’s marvelous athletic ability and use common sense before beginning any exercise program.

— Cynthia