What to do when cats are difficult to adopt

We’re going to bounce around a little bit in this column so that we can give you a couple of reminders and updates. First, as the warm weather has FINALLY graced us with its presence, it has brought the ticks with it. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter staff is seeing more and more of these pests on dogs coming into the shelter. With the uptick (no pun intended!) in tick-borne diseases, it is imperative for the health of your dog that you have him or her on a good external parasite preventative. Most external parasite treatments handle both fleas as well as ticks, and the fleas won’t be far behind. You can purchase the preventative treatments at the shelter, pet supply stores, vet offices and online. We always suggest that you consult with your veterinarian before starting treatment.

If you’ve been outdoors enjoying this nice weather, you also may have noticed all of the insects seem to have emerged overnight. I saw mosquitoes in my garden last week, which means your dog may be at risk of contracting heartworm disease if not on the preventative medication. Heartworm disease is fatal if not treated, but it’s easily preventable. You must take your dog to a veterinarian to get this medication, as it is not available over the counter.

Our foster homes are still filled with kittens who are not old enough to be placed in their permanent homes yet, and we are receiving more every day. We are always looking to recruit new foster homes and hope that you will consider learning about the impact you can have in saving the lives of pets in need by providing temporary care. Fostering can involve dogs or cats – whichever you are comfortable with – and may include an individual animal or a litter, according to your abilities. To learn about fostering, email our foster coordinator at fosters@southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Finally, the shelter’s low-cost vaccine clinics begin on May 19 and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of every month from now through October. Dogs and cats are welcome at the clinics. Dogs must be on short leashes with secure collars or harnesses. Cats MUST be in secure carriers. Rabies, distemper and Bordetella vaccines are available. If you want a three-year rabies vaccine, you must bring proof of the prior vaccine. Flea and tick preventatives are available at the clinics. We carry Provecta for dogs, which contains four monthly doses for $30; and Catego for cats, which contains three monthly doses for $35. Cash or credit cards are accepted. Our low-cost spay/neuter clinic is available every week; appointments can be made at the shelter or online. You can find us online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Source: What to do when cats are difficult to adopt

Tick, tick, tick … Protect your pet from these pests

We’re going to bounce around a little bit in this column so that we can give you a couple of reminders and updates. First, as the warm weather has FINALLY graced us with its presence, it has brought the ticks with it. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter staff is seeing more and more of these pests on dogs coming into the shelter. With the uptick (no pun intended!) in tick-borne diseases, it is imperative for the health of your dog that you have him or her on a good external parasite preventative. Most external parasite treatments handle both fleas as well as ticks, and the fleas won’t be far behind. You can purchase the preventative treatments at the shelter, pet supply stores, vet offices and online. We always suggest that you consult with your veterinarian before starting treatment.

If you’ve been outdoors enjoying this nice weather, you also may have noticed all of the insects seem to have emerged overnight. I saw mosquitoes in my garden last week, which means your dog may be at risk of contracting heartworm disease if not on the preventative medication. Heartworm disease is fatal if not treated, but it’s easily preventable. You must take your dog to a veterinarian to get this medication, as it is not available over the counter.

Our foster homes are still filled with kittens who are not old enough to be placed in their permanent homes yet, and we are receiving more every day. We are always looking to recruit new foster homes and hope that you will consider learning about the impact you can have in saving the lives of pets in need by providing temporary care. Fostering can involve dogs or cats – whichever you are comfortable with – and may include an individual animal or a litter, according to your abilities. To learn about fostering, email our foster coordinator at fosters@southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Finally, the shelter’s low-cost vaccine clinics begin on May 19 and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of every month from now through October. Dogs and cats are welcome at the clinics. Dogs must be on short leashes with secure collars or harnesses. Cats MUST be in secure carriers. Rabies, distemper and Bordetella vaccines are available. If you want a three-year rabies vaccine, you must bring proof of the prior vaccine. Flea and tick preventatives are available at the clinics. We carry Provecta for dogs, which contains four monthly doses for $30; and Catego for cats, which contains three monthly doses for $35. Cash or credit cards are accepted. Our low-cost spay/neuter clinic is available every week; appointments can be made at the shelter or online. You can find us online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Source: Tick, tick, tick … Protect your pet from these pests

Difficult choice at shelter when pregnant cats arrive

While everybody else in the world was celebrating the beautiful burst of warm weather, at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter we were bracing ourselves. Warm weather means kittens – and all the stress and urgency that come along with them. For weeks, we have looked at our empty cages and enjoyed every moment, knowing that the end was close. The sunshine and high temperatures brought on exactly what we expected, and in the past week we were introduced to over 35 homeless kittens who entered our shelter or were born there.

I feel like I must have written about kitten season dozens of times, but today I’m going to broach a topic that is one of the most difficult and thought-provoking of all issues brought up by kitten season.  However, before you continue reading, you must understand what kitten season looks like in an open-intake shelter. You must picture every cage filled with cats and kittens, and animal control arriving with yet another cage filled that need a place to stay.

So one must understand that kitten season is about making the best of your situation, properly caring for your animals, and working hard to save as many lives as possible. And while we have increased our lifesaving rates by thousands, and euthanasia is at its lowest rate ever, we are still constantly faced with difficult situations.

Billy Madison

What is the correct thing to do when a cat arrives pregnant? While my sentimental side shouts that every life is precious, the logical side of me knows that allowing a pregnant cat to deliver only causes more problems. We struggle already to find placement for mom cats with infant kittens. And when we do find placement, that home will be tied up for at least eight weeks caring for mom and kittens while they grow and wean. This puts kittens who have already been born at risk. If mom is spayed, not only can we focus our resources and efforts toward kittens who are already alive, but mom will be ready to be adopted in just a few short days, rather than weeks. The bottom line is that the reason kitten season is so devastating is because of the sheer volume of cats and kittens. While spaying pregnant cats can be difficult to accept, we have to take the responsible path by exercising population control, which ultimately allows us to save more lives.

We encourage everyone at this time to be proactive and do your part by getting cats spayed and neutered.

Now.

Now is the time – just last week, four cats on stray holds (we can’t spay them during their legal stray hold) have given birth at the shelter. We couldn’t even tell that one was pregnant! There’s no reason for pet cats not to be spayed or neutered, and we encourage citizens to help by making sure neighborhood cats are also spayed and neutered. There are many resources for getting community cats fixed; prices are often discounted and traps can be loaned. Appointments can be made at our clinic by stopping at shelter or visit our website. Aside from our clinic, there are other excellent, low-cost options at the People for Animals clinic in Gloucester County, Camden County Animal Shelter or Animal Welfare Association in Camden County, or the Atlantic County SPCA. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

As one can imagine, with the sudden arrival of so many kittens, we are in urgent need of supplies. We desperately need KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and also need Snuggle Safes (microwaveable heat pads). We also seek new families to help us save lives by fostering. Fill out our online foster application and contact Fosters@cumberlandcountyspca.org for more information.

Source: Difficult choice at shelter when pregnant cats arrive

What you need to know before getting a dog

Over the past several years, pet insurance has become more and more popular. There are now a dozen insurance companies in the U.S. that offer policies for cats, dogs and even some exotic pets. Like all insurances, I’d rather stick hot needles in my eyes than try to understand how and when they kick in, and how much should be invested in them. Unless you choose a purebred pet, such as an English Bulldog, that is almost guaranteed to need lifelong extensive veterinary care, it’s a gamble as to whether it will be worth it in the animal’s lifespan.

I mention English Bulldogs because they can be one of the most expensive breeds to own – a factor that should be seriously considered when choosing a pet. Bulldogs are bred to be brachycephalic, or extremely short-snouted, which can result in respiratory problems and skin issues in the folds around their mouth. Their common problems also include severe skin allergies, eczema, degenerative spine disease, cherry eye and hip dysplasia, just to name a few. People love their sad, pushed-in faces, their broad shoulders and short stubby legs, but these are the things that set them up for big problems.

His misfortune in being picked up by the dog catcher and ending up in the “pokey,” so to speak, turned out to be a stroke of luck for him. We’re working on finding the resources and advocates needed to get his medical issues addressed and to make sure that he’s monitored regularly. Whether that happens through his owner or through rescue has yet to be determined, but either way, he will receive the care that he needs.

English Bulldogs are one of the breeds whose medical challenges are extreme, but any time you are considering a specific breed it’s imperative that you understand as much as possible about the health issues that may be common to them. Being ill-prepared for such considerations often leaves pets suffering poor health, and gets owners in over their heads financially. For breeds who are predisposed to medical issues, pet insurance is a no-brainer and could be the difference between putting down a pet and being able to afford expensive veterinary services.

 Plans generally cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per month, according to what coverage you choose, but can be more expensive for some pure breed pets. There are plans covering only accidents/injuries, which are on the cheaper end; plans that cover illness and disease in the mid-range; and those that cover all conditions at the high end. Premiums also may be affected by gender and the cost of living in your area. Whether you choose to insure your pet or not, it’s always a good idea to set aside money for both regular veterinary care and the unexpected. Annual costs including office visits, vaccines and parasite treatments can run a few hundred dollars in and of themselves. There are good resources for comparing plans on the internet, and your vet’s office may be able to offer some advice as well.

Source: What you need to know before getting a dog

Spring is here – is your pet prepared?

Relocating to Florida is looking better every year. Although I might have to spend more money on grooming to keep the dogs shaved down, at least I would not have to shovel a path through the ice and snow for them to go outside. Snow is one thing, but that ice last week turned my yard into a hazard zone for the dogs and a whole lot of work for me. Their first attempt to race out the door, in hot pursuit of those thieving squirrels raiding the birdfeeders, turned into a scene out of the ice follies as paws hit the icy deck and the four-leggers went sprawling! I couldn’t let them outside unsupervised because branches and limbs were snapping like toothpicks, which eventually broke a gaping hole in the fence – the fence that I put up so that I would NOT have to stand out in the weather when I let the dogs out. I suppose I would have to worry about hurricanes in Florida, but at least I wouldn’t be cold and I wouldn’t have to shovel.

It seems odd to go from ranting about blizzard conditions to concerns about spring, but that was my intention this week. I wanted to remind you that these are your last few days to get your pets licensed. Most municipalities, including Vineland, give you through March 31 to get it done, so Thursday (Friday is a holiday) will be your last chance before late fees will apply. Also, remember that you should be prepared to pay cash for the license when you go to your municipal building.

The other thing I wanted to mention was parasite control for your pets. For those of you who stop your dog’s heartworm prevention medication over the winter, it’s time to start it back up again. Vets recommend that dogs be tested/retested before they will prescribe the meds. Although this spring seems to be having some difficulty kicking into any warming trend, heartworm disease is very serious and can cause damage to the heart tissue and even death; don’t take any chances by delaying prevention.

The ticks are already out and about, and the fleas will follow shortly, so you should also start whatever external parasite prevention treatment you use. There are seven major tickborne diseases that affect dogs, Lyme disease being the one that dogs in our area seem to suffer the most. These diseases can cause all sorts of symptoms including fever, pain, loss of appetite and vomiting. There are several options for external parasite control: over the counter vs. prescription; topical vs. oral; and treatments that last for one-, three- or six-month periods. For your pet’s safety, you should always consult with your veterinarian before starting any prevention, even if it’s over the counter, because they are all some type of pesticide. Never combine treatments or use them repeatedly before the recommended intervals, and watch for any allergic reactions when administering.

Finally, although warm weather has failed to make its appearance, new life has begun to emerge. As I stated last week, the KITTENS ARE COMING, so please do what you can to promote spay and neuter. We also received our first infant squirrel of the season; it had been rescued from a nest that was brought down in the storm last week. Wildlife in general will be on the move as they begin their mating season and the young come out of their dens and nests, so keep your eyes on the road and be vigilant when you’re out removing all those fallen trees and branches.

Source: Spring is here – is your pet prepared?

Along came a spider, and an important lesson

Last week we found a spider in my daughter’s room. She was picking out a book to read for her bedtime story, and there it was – a medium-sized, dark black spider, creepily illuminated by her glowing nightlight. She screamed and ran to me: “Mommy, that spider is scary! Can we please kill it?”

Now, in my house, the only victims of death threats and murder are flies and mosquitoes (because disease). Everything else, spiders included, get a free pass. They are typically left to their spin their webs, crawl on the floor or accomplish whatever it is that bugs need to accomplish, which almost never bothers us. If they are just too freaky in appearance or become a bother, they are carefully removed and placed outside.

I’m not sure why, but I can’t bear to kill or cause suffering to another being for no reason. Sure, this causes some inconvenience … instead of washing an intimidating spider down the drain, after discovering him crawling on my shower curtain, uncomfortably close while I’m in a vulnerable state – I have a conversation with him about respecting personal space. Also difficult is walking anywhere after rain … can’t move 10 feet without having to complete 10 worm rescues. People watching must think I’m nuts, but I would rather be this way than not.

Back to the storytime spider. I immediately see this as a teachable moment. “You think you are scared of the spider? Look how little he is, and look how big you are!” She thinks about this. Then I pull out one of my favorite books from my own childhood, “Sophie’s Masterpiece” by Eileen Spinelli. This beautifully illustrated story tells the story of an arachnid named Sophie who, despite creating beautiful works of webs, was kicked out of home after home by humans who are scared of her, only to find herself sharing an apartment with a tolerant young woman as her life nears its end. Sophie’s final work of art is a beautiful blanket for a newly arrived baby, in which she weaves snowflakes, wisps of lullabies and finally her own heart.

After reading the story, my daughter reconsidered her death sentence. I could see that she was able to look at this creature in a different way and consider not just how does this make ME feel, but how do I make this other living being feel? That’s a powerful way to think. Imagine if all children learned to think about how their actions affected not just themselves, not just other people – but all living things?

At a time when anger and violence seem to be escalating, it is especially important that we teach empathy to our youth. It is so very important to teach children how to care for each other, and what better way than to start with the creatures who share our world? And when that empathy is absent, we need to be concerned.

A University of Washington study by Eric Madfis and Arnold Arluke revealed that 43% of school shooters had reports of animal cruelty in their histories. And specifically, types of cruelty that require hands-on violence and prolonged suffering – acts that turn my stomach to even consider. Animal cruelty should never be brushed aside or considered “normal.” It is important to report and to address not only because animals do not deserve to be hurt and need justice when they are, but also because if someone is willing to hurt an animal, how far are they from being willing to hurt a person?

Schools and shelters are doing their best to provide humane education and develop curriculum that incorporates social skills. But as parents and neighbors and citizens, we lead the way by modeling empathy regularly and confidently. And while today the recipient of my daughter’s empathy is a spider who now has a permanent home by the nightlight, she is acquiring the tools needed to allow her to make a real difference – for the better – in the life of a lonely or suffering or scared animal or person. Every small act of kindness has the potential to make a world of change.

Amy

If you are looking for a place to start, consider a book. These are just a sampling of the many works of literature that can help teach important life lessons:

  • “Not a Used Dog, At All” by Carol Erickson
  • “A Boy and a Jaguar” by Alan Rabinowitz
  • “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf
  • “Hey, Little Ant” by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
  • “One Duck” by Hazel Hutchins
  • “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstien
  • “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate KiCamillo
  • “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell

Source: Along came a spider, and an important lesson

Don’t take new puppies, kittens away from their moms

I know that not everyone is animal savvy, but it seems to me that it would be common sense that infant mammals need to be with their mamas until they’re weaned. Taking into consideration that puppies and kittens are typically going into the care of humans once they are old enough and not scavenging for food on their own, it still seems only logical that they would remain in their mother’s care until they are 6 to 8 weeks old at the very least. Even free-roaming kittens stay with their mother while she teaches them to hunt and fend for themselves; at that point, they still tend to live in colonies.I have been amazed this year at the number of infant puppies and kittens that I have seen given away, sold, or somehow finding their way to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.

A young human family from Bridgeton came into the shelter last week with a puppy that couldn’t have been more than 3 weeks old. He was tiny; I’m sure he didn’t even weigh 1 pound. His teeth were just breaking the surface of his gums. The people already had the pup for more than a week and had taken it from a guy who was giving away the whole litter. Fortunately, these folks had done their homework; they were bottle feeding him and knew that they needed to get de-wormers and vaccines for him.

A couple of weeks ago, we dealt with a cruelty case involving several dogs, many of which showed signs of having been repeatedly bred. There was one infant pup on the property, probably about 4 weeks old. The other pups already had been sold. The little one that we were able to get custody of weighed 2.1 pounds; she was crawling with fleas to the point where her gums were white with anemia. She would not have lived much longer with the fleas literally sucking the life out of her. I have nightmares about the rest of the litter; I can only hope that the new owners sought care for them right away.At every one of our monthly vaccine clinics, we’ve had people come with puppies that were way too young to be away from their mothers. At the shelter, we have received hundreds of kittens that should have still been nursing. The kittens tend to suffer in even greater numbers than puppies, as they are more likely to be separated from their mothers too soon. In general, they receive less human care as they are more apt to be born outdoors and without good shelter and regular monitoring.

I was happy to see that the young family who took in the infant pup had the sense of responsibility to research the necessary care. They had gone out and bought puppy formula. They came to the shelter seeking advice and medical care. Although we couldn’t help with the veterinary stuff, I think they left with a good education on the daily needs of the pup as well as an idea of what medical treatments would be needed, when they should be scheduled and how much it might cost.Separating young puppies and kittens from their mothers too soon is a form of cruelty. It can compromise the health of the babies as well as put the mother in danger of getting mastitis. If you know of anyone trying to sell or give away kittens or pups that are younger than 6 weeks, please contact us immediately.

Source: Don’t take new puppies, kittens away from their moms

What pet owners need to know as weather gets warmer

First, I want to thank everyone for the response to our Chihuahua column from last week. As of this past Friday, 12 of the 24 dogs have either gone to their new homes or are spoken for! I’m still hoping that seeing their pictures will help the other half find new homes as well. Even if you can’t adopt one, please share their story by word of mouth or on your social network; these pups really need to get out of the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter and into a home where they can get some TLC.The second thing I wanted to mention is that, as we knew they would, the infant kittens are starting to pour into the shelter. As much as we enjoyed that warm spell we had back in February, so did the cats! Now, nine or 10 weeks later, we have lots and lots of little bundles of joy arriving on our doorstep. On that note, I ask you to please spay or neuter any cats you might have, and to help educate anyone you might know who has or is feeding unaltered felines. We also are desperately in need of new foster homes for kittens. We want to save every possible pet that we can, and fostering is absolutely essential to that end. It’s a short-term commitment with big-time rewards; please call for information or check our website if you think you might be able to help.

Finally, I want to remind you to take the usual warm weather precautions with your pets, both indoors and out. I know some of you are recalling how back in February I wrote about how unseasonably warm our winter was, and then it immediately turned cold and wet. This time, though, the calendar is on my side. I admit to being a true weather junkie, checking my weather apps all the time; this is how I was so badly misled in postponing our annual pet walk. Weather forecasters near and far predicted a washout for the weekend of April 23. It turned out to be a bright sunny day and a pleasant 74 degrees. I have lost all faith in The Weather Channel, the NOAA and the local TV stations. I know the weather has been crazy – one day it’s in the 80s and the next day it’s in the 60s – but bugs of all types are out, and it only gets worse from here.

For dogs, if you don’t keep them on heartworm medication year round, you should start that as of today. For cats and dogs, the ticks already are booming and the fleas won’t be too far behind; get your pets treated with some sort of preventative before you’re kicking yourself for not doing it sooner. If you didn’t license your pets yet, you’re late. It’ll cost you a few bucks more to do it now, but it’s way cheaper than the fine if you’re caught without it. The warmer months are also when the serious viruses that affect pets are most prevalent; make sure your animals are up-to-date on their vaccines.

Source: What pet owners need to know as weather gets warmer

Don’t panic about latest dog disease reports

Some of you may have seen recent media reports about the spread of a bacterial disease, called Leptospirosis, in dogs in New Jersey. It was a little alarming, so I wanted to go over it in more depth for you.News reports said at least five dogs from Paramus had been diagnosed, and that the disease can be fatal if left untreated. It is definitely a serious disease, but there’s no need for panic.First, you should know there is a vaccine to prevent it. If your dog is up-to-date on his or her annual vaccines, it’s possible your vet already has given it to your pet. In some cases, your vet may recommend that your dog not have the Lepto vaccine, as it may cause a harmful reaction, especially in some pure breeds such as Dachshunds. The efficacy of the vaccine can vary, because like a human flu shot, there are different strains of the disease that may not be covered in the formula of the vaccine being given.

Although it’s not impossible for cats to contract it, they seem to have a natural resistance to the disease and therefore are not vaccinated.The bacterium that causes the disease is spread through urine into water sources, where it lives and reproduces. Lakes, ponds, standing water and stagnant water are the places that your dog would potentially come in contact with the bacteria. It is found worldwide in tropical and temperate climates, and normally is more of a problem in summer and early fall.In general, your dog would be served by you discussing the risk factors with your vet and determining if the vaccine is needed. As with all vaccines, you should be aware of what your pet is getting, the schedule that is needed in order for it to be effective, and any risk factors associated with it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has good information on Leptospirosis if you’d like to learn more.On a completely different note, I want to update you on Buddy and Rocky, the two dogs that we featured in last week’s column. Buddy has an adoption pending; he should be getting neutered and going home this week. Rocky has come down with a minor upper respiratory infection for which he is being medicated, so he’s back in our treatment area but is still available for adoption as soon as he’s well enough to be neutered.Finally, we want to thank everyone who attended Paws for Art at Wheaton Arts on April 2. We had a record attendance of about 1,500 people and 50 dogs! It was a gorgeous day.Keep in mind that our annual “Step for a Pet” walkathon is coming up on April 23. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and our ability to care for thousands of homeless and abused pets depends on the success of events like this. Please keep your fingers crossed for good weather and join us at Parvin State Park for a fun day out with your family and pets.

Source: Don’t panic about latest dog disease reports

WARNING: Early spring means early problems for your pets

March certainly did roar in like a lion. Along with the gusty winds, on the first day of the month we took in 14 cats at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter – some of them obviously pregnant already! That would not be unusual at all in the middle of May, but this early in the year it’s a bad sign of things to come.Although it was wonderful having the warmest winter on record, it won’t bode well for a lot of animals. Cats will be reproducing like rabbits. Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes will come early, and may be more prevalent. Health concerns, such as the Parvovirus, will be intensified. That said, as I mentioned in last week’s column, a little prevention goes a long way.I’m currently fostering a litter of puppies that came from downtown Bridgeton. Two of them were found in the middle of the busiest road in town and brought in by animal control. The officer knew there were four more loose puppies on the property from which they came, but no one was home and the mother dog would not let anyone near them. The next day was a Saturday, with no animal control officer on duty, so I drove over there myself, fearing the others would end up in the road and come to an unfortunate end. Luckily, the owners were home and we were able to get custody of the rest of the litter.

The puppies are absolutely adorable and we got attached to them very quickly.  On Tuesday, when I greeted them in the morning, one was extremely lethargic. I took him in to the veterinarian, and her first thought, because of his age and the area where he had been found, was that he might have Parvovirus. I was beside myself with worry. Although Parvo can be treated, it requires hospitalization, isn’t always successful and isn’t really affordable with a litter of six.I was surprised when the vet suspected Parvo. I think of it more as a warm weather problem. The virus goes dormant when the temperature drops below freezing and starts to rear its ugly head as things heat up. Apparently, the warm weather we had in February has allowed the virus to resurface early, and already veterinarians in the area are seeing cases.

By the time I got the pup home after seeing the vet, I was convinced we would lose him. He was whimpering when he moved, crying out when I picked him up, and literally falling over when he stood up. Thankfully, it turns out that my foster pup is a SERIOUS drama king and was simply suffering from an upset belly. Later that evening he managed to eat some chicken, and by the next morning he was bouncing around as if nothing had ever been wrong with him. He’s lucky he’s so darn cute.My point to this story is that if vets are seeing Parvovirus, and cats are on the move and carrying litters already, we should be preparing our pets for warm weather issues now. First and foremost, if you have pets that need to be spayed or neutered, please get it scheduled as quickly as possible. Dogs that are not on heartworm preventative year-round should start their monthly treatments ASAP. Flea and tick treatment that you normally might not apply until April or May should be started well before then, in order to avoid infestation and disease. Make sure that any young dogs and cats have completed their puppy and kitten vaccine regimen and that your adults are up-to-date. You still have three Saturdays to take advantage of the county-run free rabies vaccine clinics; check with the Cumberland County Health Department for locations.

Source: WARNING: Early spring means early problems for your pets