It's Almost Spring - Has Your Dog Sprung?

Spring is almost official here in South Carolina. With warmer temps in the Midlands and elsewhere in the country, our dogs are spending more time outside enjoying the sunshine. If you're in the same situation (or will be in the next few weeks), start thinking about what special needs your dogs have in the spring.

* Get a vet check-up. Before spending too much time outside with your dog, take her to the vet's office for a physical. You need to update parasite and seasonal insects, and this is a great time to get shots and vaccinations updated. This is especially important if you plan to frequent the dog park. After being inside for the past several months, have your dog checked for allergies. investigate her eating habits and ask about an exercise plan.

* Do some serious grooming. Spring is notoriously the worst time of year for shedding. Most long-haired dogs are losing their thick undercoats and need some help getting it out. Invest in one of those ShedEnder combs and spare your home some clean-up later. A good, cool bath can also prepare skin and fur for being out in the yard. The girls are a little dusty from a pretty sedentary winter, so this is their weekend for some spa treatment.

* Take care of the yard. Chances are you haven't done much in the backyard for the past several months. If this is where you plan on letting your dogs play the most, take some time to clean up their droppings, clean out old leaves where bugs could be infesting and pile up sticks and pine cones. Get some new outdoor toys and a water dish so you can spend quality time with your dog in a clean area.

* Brush up on training. For some dogs, spring will be their first long walks and car trips for a while. Before heading out, review basic obedience with your dog - sit, stay, come and heel are all super important when walking your neighborhood. Keep them safe by reminding them of the basics.

* Do some house cleaning. While you're doing your annual Spring Cleaning, focus on the areas your dogs frequents. There's probably fur piled up in corners and along walls. Deep-clean the carpets after you've bathed the puppies so they'll stay cleaner longer. Wash and air-dry their bedding and wash out feeding bowls. Check toys for rips and tears, throwing out anything that's ruined or dangerous for the dog to have. Just make sure you replace them with something new and great!

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