After a long dark grey winter in lockdown, spring has finally arrived for us all with daffodils and bluebells bursting with colour and giving hope for us all for the days and months ahead.
Spare a thought for our four-legged friends who have also been through the ‘lockdown’ experience with us. Maybe now it’s the time to give our furry friends a well-earned make-over in preparation for the spring/summer months.
Kim from Tzu-Tzu Shihtzu shares her thoughts on how to best prepare your Shih Tzu for Springtime.
Many dogs, like us, have been unable to visit the groomers for their normal wash and haircut, but with lockdown restrictions easing and groomers re-opening, now is the time to book your beloved Shih Tzu in for a good thorough groom.
A groomer will remove any knots and matts which have built up over the many months of lockdown, restoring your dog’s coat to top condition for the warmer weather. To ensure your pooch is is a little more comfortable, ask your groomer to take the cut slightly shorter for the warmer days ahead.
In order to maintain your Shih Tzu’s ‘out of lockdown’ groom, bathe them regularly – this will help to keep their coat in good condition. The range of dog shampoos and conditioners now available is excellent and there will be one to suit your Shih Tzu’s coat, from shampoos for white Shih Tzu’s (to take the yellowness from their coat and keep it bright white) to mild oatmeal shampoos for those with sensitive skin problems.
The spring months bring with them air-borne pollen particles which can get stuck in your dog’s coat, so a regular wash will help to keep your dog allergy-free. Try and brush your pooch most days to keep their coat tangle-free and to stimulate the blood flow to the skin.
After months of being kept inside for most of the time, check over your dog’s claws. If they are in need of cutting and you are not happy to do them yourself, seek professional help from a groomer or your veterinary nurse who will be happy to help. Claws which are too long are painful for a dog, so it’s so important to keep these in check. Regular dog walks will also help to grind your Shih Tzu’s claws down.
Vaccinations & Medication
As Spring comes around, it’s important to make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. Unfortunately, the warmer weather is a breeding ground for all the nasty doggy diseases, so check your dog’s vaccination card to see when their booster vaccination is due and book your appointment with your vet. These vaccinations can save your dog’s life, so they’re absolutely essential!
Fleas can also be a big problem in the warmer months – lurking in the longer grass on your daily dog walks. One brush against the long grass and your best furry friend could be riddled with fleas.
Meeting other dogs who are untreated for fleas also raises the chances of your dog catching fleas. This can be avoided by treating your dog with flea treatment each month, especially during the spring/summer. Flea treatments are available in most good pet shops or through your vets.
Also, ensure that your dog’s worming treatments are kept up to date. An adult Shih Tzu should be treated every three months, again with worming treatments from pet shops or through your vet. A Shih Tzu puppy will need treating for worms more regularly until they reach adulthood.
It’s advised that you talk to your vet about treatment for lungworm which a dog can catch from snails and slugs in the garden. Lungworm can prove fatal, so it’s extremely important that your dog is treated.
It’s always beneficial to book your dog in for a health check with your vet. They will check your dog over, paying attention to their ears to make sure no nasty infections have developed. They will look at their mouth and teeth to ensure they are all in good condition, and they will also check your dog’s eyes to make sure there are no cataracts beginning to develop.
Heart and lungs will be listened to and running their hands over their abdomen to check for any unusual signs and scanning their microchip to see if it’s all in working order. All dogs now need to be microchipped by UK law.
Microchipping is more important than ever with dog theft on the rise! It will help to reunite your dog with you should they stray or be stolen. If you move or have moved house, always ensure your address details are updated with your microchip company.
Unfortunately, dog thefts have risen dramatically, especially during the lockdown. Always be vigilant on a dog walk – look for people who seem out of place in the environment. If someone is overly interested in your dog and is asking lots of questions, politely excuse yourself and walk away.
Make sure that you are not being followed home so that a thief can see where you live and always try to vary your dog walking route, don’t stick to a regular route as someone could be watching you. It’s horrible to think all this is going on around you, but unfortunately, it’s very real and definitely something to be vigilant about during the lighter, warmer days ahead which gets you and your dog outside more.
Most of us will be thinking about spring cleaning our houses, but don’t forget about your dog! Wash dog beds/blankets with anti-bacterial laundry wash. Try to wash them weekly and put outside to dry on good sunny days. Clean the area inside where your dog tends to lay, and use a dog-friendly disinfectant to freshen up.
Many of us will be thinking about sprucing up our gardens and garden furniture. Pay particular attention to your fence panels – make sure that no holes or gaps have appeared during the winter months which your dog maybe able to escape through. Ensure garden gates are lockable, too.
Make sure no harmful chemicals have been left in the garden and tip away any stagnant water that may have built up in watering cans or old flower pots. This could give your dog a really bad stomach infection if they drank it. Always make sure there is a shaded area for your pooch to sit under in hot sunshine and always have a bowl of water available for your dog during the summer months to avoid dehydration.
Book a dog-friendly holiday!
As we begin to get back to some kind of normality in the spring months ahead, you and your four-legged friend can hopefully enjoy some more quality time together; and what better way to do that than a dog-friendly getaway?
Check out our top doggie staycay picks for Shih Tzus and other smaller breeds…