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  • Writer's picturemichael raff

Spring Safety Tips

As the weather starts to warm up, we all get excited to get out more with our dogs. Spring is a wonderful time to be out, and we should also be aware of new hazards for our dogs during this change of seasons. 


The sun starts to feel quite a bit warmer after the equinox and has the power to heat up the landscape. This also means that cars will warm up quickly when left in the sun. Be aware that leaving your dog in your car on these sunny spring days without adequate ventilation and access to water is downright dangerous for your pup. 


As the warm weather heats up the snowy mountain landscape, the snowmelt increases runoff into the streams and rivers, nurtures plants, as well as wakes up critters that have been sleeping or keeping a low profile in winter.

In general, the lakes will still be cold from the snowmelt, so be sure to monitor your dog for signs of hypothermia if they spend a lot of time in the cold water. Dry them off, feed them treats, and run them around to rewarm them after they have a swim session. 

High water on creeks and rivers has the potential to be dangerous for dogs, too. If you take your dog near moving water, especially on hot days while the snow is still melting, be aware of the chance for cold, swift water and its ability to wash a dog downstream into potential hazards. We recommend scouting out an area before taking your dog down to the creeks. 

  • Is there fast moving water to avoid? Is there a good slow water spot nearby that is better? 

  • Are the banks steep or low angled enough that your dog can scramble out?

  • Are there trees or bushes along the river that would prevent your dog from getting out, or that might potentially entrap them if they get caught in the current and are washed towards these hazards? 

Pay attention to these hazards before letting your dog just jump in. 

As more water appears on the landscape, so do waterborne illnesses such as giardia or leptospirosis and even worms. Monitor your dog for signs of gastrointestinal illness and talk with your vet about appropriate prevention and vaccinations or treatment if needed.


As the plants green up, the squirrels and deer also become more active. Squirrels can harbor bubonic plague and deer bring ticks up from lower elevations. Even though ticks are not regularly found in the Truckee area and Tahoe Basin, the deer and dogs that have been outside at lower elevations do bring them up and transmit them. Consider flea and tick preventative application during this time of year, especially if you leave the Tahoe Basin. 


Bears and their cubs that have been hibernating also start to emerge as water drips into their dens, while coyotes and their pups start to range further away from their dens in search of food, and waterfowl come from all over to nest in our water rich resources.. Remember that we share this home with lots of amazing wildlife, and it is our responsibility to respect them by minimizing the stress that a loose running dog might incur. Wildlife can be a huge distraction for your dog, so be sure to practice recall before it is needed (see the recall article in this newsletter), lest your dog go on a long unplanned wildlife chasing excursion.

Spring and the start of summer are a wonderful time of year for you and your dog to get out. Be sure to keep the potential hazards in mind so you can prevent an incident and are prepared if one were to happen. This way, you can make the most of your time out with your dog.

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