Get Leashed, For Real!

When spring is in the air, the leash should always be on hand

By the Get Leashed Health Team

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According to Animal People news, 1.2 million dogs were killed on U.S. roads in 2012, and most of them were likely chasing something — a ball, a child, a cat, a squirrel.

All winter long veterinarians rarely see incidences of dogs hit by cars. Unfortunately, as soon as spring rolls in, those numbers skyrocket. Our veterinarian-in-residence, Dr. Sheldon, takes us through the importance of leashing your dog during the spring thaw, and why this time of year could be especially dangerous for your pet.

The answer is an easy one, if you take the time to think about it. Winter is cold and dogs, like many other animals that inhabit chilly climates, move into a sort of semi-hibernation. Generally they become less active, they sleep more, and they may even gain a little weight. I bet you can think of a few people you know who do the same, right? Well, in this way, dogs and people are very similar.

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Now, try to imagine how you would feel when experiencing the first spring day after a long cold spell, much less a very long winter season. I’d be willing to venture that you’d be thrilled to feel sun on your face and want to get out there and enjoy the milder weather. Well, guess what? Your dog is right there with you.

As the weather improves, our general disposition improves along with it. We move around more, any joints affected by arthritis become less sore and muscles begin to loosen up. We even begin to loose any extra pounds that we may have accumulated during colder months, when we were less active. Overall we just feel better and as a result, we want to get outside and do things.

Streets, parks, patios all fill up in the spring. People smile more, and you see far more joggers on their daily runs. Now, unless you own a winter dog like a Husky or Samoyed who will hibernate during summer moths, most dog owners will report that their dog’s energy levels increase as the weather warms up.

This means a dog that is calm and sedate while off leash during the winter will experience a resurgence of energy in the spring. This is also where dogs and people begin to differ. Make no mistake, dogs that are trained, do know the rules. But when instinct hits them, they are more likely than people to forget the rules and give in to impulse.

So, now that you know the background, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why the spring season can be a more dangerous time for pets.

• As I’ve mentioned, dogs experience a renewal of energy in the spring. This can cause them to forget the rules and give into instinct.

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• Terra Firma – We’ve all seen dogs on ice. They’re very cautious, right? Well, in the spring, when the ice melts, dog have far better footing and their confidence increases. This means they are more likely to take chances when chasing things like squirrels and cars.

• Naturally, we spend more time outside with our dogs in the spring. Other people do the same, so your dog will be interacting with more new dogs than in winter months. While you may feel that your dog might not dart into traffic on his own, he may very likely chase a squirrel, or another dog into the street.

Bottom line, leashes prevent a number of spring follies with relative ease and minimal expense.

Still not convinced? “The fact remains, that during the winter months we rarely see a dog hit by a car in our animal hospital. But come spring, we see at least 1-2 pets come in, per week!” says, Dr. Sheldon. So, just be smart this spring and leash-up. After all, there’s nothing more important than keeping your dog safe and happy.