We’ve moved our clocks ahead and spring is set to start in about a week (March 20th). With the beautiful weather predicted for the Casper area this weekend (highs in the mid to upper 60s, the weather forecast says!), it’s a great time to get outdoors and exercise. And, when you do, take your dog along!
Activities such as walking, jogging, and bike riding doesn’t have to be a solo adventure. Your dog, too, receives many physical and emotional benefits from activity, from sunshine and warm temperatures.
Casper has two dog parks now, one fenced-in and one open. Morad Park isn’t fenced so your dog isn’t safe from the flowing waters of the North Platte River, but there is more room for running. Lake McKenzie Dog Park, located off Bryan Stock Trail, is a two-acre completely fenced dog park that opened in November 2014. Here your dog isn’t as likely to jump (or fall) into the river but this park is smaller than Morad. However, there aren’t bike riders or joggers to deal with either. Whichever park you choose, you and your dog are apt to enjoy the outing, meeting other canines and their special persons and walking (or jogging) the trails.
Breathing clean, fresh air, relishing sunshine and warm temperatures on a Saturday or Sunday at the dog park is a wonderful experience for dogs and their owners. Socializing with others, be they human or canine, can also be a fun and engaging experience – who knows but that a solid friendship may just develop between dogs and/or people from a visit to the dog park?
Spending time on Casper Mountain, where it won’t be 60 degrees (but still a warm spring-like day at 7,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation) can also be a fun way to spend the weekend. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing with dog in tow again provides exercise for man and beast. Just make sure your dog is allowed in the area where you hope to be.
So, spring into exercise with your dog this weekend and feel healthier emotionally and physically … together!
With the dawning of June, summer is nearly upon us (and for some, the hot season has already arrived!). Keep your pets safe this summer by following these tips:
· Don’t leave pets unattended in your vehicle. Cars quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, especially on warm or sunny days, even with the windows slightly open.
· Ensure your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date and that heartworm, flea and tick medications have been administered. Summer brings out rabies-carrying creatures, such as skunks and raccoons, and fleas and ticks are abundant this time of year as well. Protect your pets! Consult your veterinarian for more information on heartworm, Lyme disease, rabies and other life-threatening diseases.
· When planning your dog’s daily walk, seriously consider early morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler. If you have to walk mid-day, take a shorter route, and remember that sidewalks can burn the pads of a dog’s paws.
· If your dog spends time outdoors in a kennel, ensure he has plenty of fresh, cool water and shelter. Rain and thunderstorms can pop up quickly, particularly in the afternoon when you may be elsewhere, such as work. And, NEVER chain or tie your dog out – lightening striking a nearby tree, heat exhaustion, dehydration and numerous insect bites are just a few of hazards posed to tethered dogs.
· For your cat’s protection, keep her indoors. Cats can be purr-fectly content indoor pets – they just need is a bit of playtime, a cat tree and other enrichment. Keeping your kitty indoors protects her from death by car, rabies from roaming creatures, and other safety issues, such as other cats and roaming dogs.
· Pesticides, weedkiller and other chemicals pose dangerous risks to pets and may even result in death. Ensure your pet cannot get into any of these hazardous products, and highly consider using organic products for your garden and yard.
· If your pet travels with you, make sure his/her ID tags are on the collar – you might even consider microchipping your pet before traveling. Also, use a leash to walk your pet for its bathroom break. One of the worst ways to ruin your vacation is to lose your pet.
· Prior to traveling, look into accommodations that accept pets. Here are a few websites that can help you plan your pet-friendly vacation: http://www.petswelcome.com/ and http://www.petsonthego.com/.
· If you don’t take your pet on vacation with you, look into hiring a reliable pet sitter. Ask friends or your vet for recommendations.
· Don’t leave your pets home alone if you’re gone for an extended period of time. Even asking friends to “drop by” to feed and water isn’t enough. Things can happen if a pet is left alone for days – running out of water, yard and house destruction, incessant barking which can result in upset neighbors – and possibly a fine to you by animal control.
· Don’t let the dog bite! Summer is the peak season for dog bites because of the increased number of children and dogs playing outdoors. Training, socialization and spaying/ neutering your dog help reduce the risk of dog bites. Also, remember to teach your children good manners around pets. To learn more about dog bites and how to prevent them, visit http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/avoid_dog_bites.html.
Following these suggestions will help you, your family, and your pets have a safer, more enjoyable summer.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.