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Ask the Expert: Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe This Spring

Advice for a happy, healthy romp through Spring in East Atlanta

This week, pet lover and columnist Morieka Johnson (aka Lulu’s mom) offers tips to keep your dog safe during an active spring in East Atlanta.

From hiking trails to picnics in the park, this is the season for dogs to have fun in the sun. Just remember these tips for a safe spring tiptoeing through the tulips.  

1.     Upgrade your gear: If the winter chill kept you off the walking trails, your dog may be a bit more hyper during those walks this Spring. Make sure your gear is up to the challenge. If not, it may be time to invest in new leashes. It’s also a good excuse to donate gently used gear to local rescue groups like Rescue Me! Animal Project. While you are shopping for funky harnesses or colorful leashes, be sure to pick out a new ID tag if yours is out of date. Those little metal tags cost as much as a cup of coffee at Joe’s. If your dog wanders off, proper identification helps to ensure a happy reunion.

2.     Read the fine print: Know the rules at local dog parks or pet-friendly spots like ParkGrounds before you and your pet show up ready to party. Some spots have breed or size restrictions, while others require that you monitor your pet at all times. It’s best to avoid uncomfortable situations for you and your pet.

3.     B.Y.O.W: From Holy Taco to Midway Pub, plenty of patios around EastAtlanta.Patch.com allow friendly canines to sunbathe with their human companions. But it still pays to bring your own bottle of water and a doggie-size travel bowl so your pooch stays hydrated on humid days.

4.     Keep vaccinations up to date: Responsible pet ownership means staying up to date on vaccinations, particularly for rabies and Bordetella (also known as “kennel cough”). This keeps your pet — and its pals — healthy enough to enjoy playtime. Doggie daycares like Wag-A-Lot require updated vaccination records. In a previous , Dr. Annie Price of Ormewood Animal Hospital shares a list of core vaccines for dogs and cats. K

5.     Pay it forward: For every pampered pet in our Patch of the city,  quite a few dogs and cats still need an extra helping hand. If you see an abused, neglected or stray animal, call animal control and file a report. Starting April 18, field officers with Dekalb County Animal Services and Enforcement will work from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays 404-294-2996. After those hours, you need to call 911 for service. For Fulton County residents, the number is 404-613-0358. Fulton County Animal Services is run by the Barking Hound Village Foundation so check out their website for more information about filing reports. You may even find a cute new addition for your home.

6.     Schedule a spay/neuter: The topic of spaying or neutering a pet can be pretty touchy, but there are many to getting a dog “fixed.” To be honest, the idea of raising a litter of puppies doesn’t appeal to me as much as sitting on a patio enjoying cool beverages with  just one well-behaved pet. If finances make this a low priority on the to-do list, click here to find a clinic that provides deeply discounted spay/neuter services. 

7. Keep this number safe: If your dog prefers to eat first and ask questions later, I highly recommend keeping your vet's number on speed dial, along with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline. Call 1-888-426-4435 for expert advice if your dog consumes something potentially dangerous. There may be a consultation fee, but consider it money well spent if you can avoid an emergency vet visit after hours.

Lulu and I look forward to seeing you and your dog around East Atlanta.

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