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Getting a Pet Ready for the Outdoors
M Duffy Jones, DVM posted:
Lately, I've seen a number of pets in my office who -- having lived most of their lives inside -- are suddenly being transitioned to the outdoors.

Here are a few factors to consider if you find yourself needing to change your pet's quarters from inside the house to the backyard.

-- Stay Consistent with Flea and Tick Medicine
It's not uncommon for people whose pets live inside to get a little lax in keeping up with monthly flea and tick medicine. Some pet owners think that, since they have not seen any fleas and ticks, they do not need to use the medication. But if your pets are not currently being treated with a preventative, they will be highly susceptible to fleas and ticks if you should ever try to move them outside. So make sure you administer a flea and tick medicine to your pets before you make any changes that will expose them to the elements.
-- Don't Risk It: Heartworm Prevention
Along with flea and tick prevention, people with inside pets may also not be giving heartworm preventatives to their pets every month. I recommend that pets stay on heartworm medicine all year round, even inside pets. If an inside pet suddenly spends more time outside, but is behind on her heartworm preventative, she can easily get heartworm disease. And the treatment for heartworms is lengthy and difficult, and not always successful. So don't let up on heartworm prevention. It's not worth the risk.
-- Build Up The Heat or Cold Tolerance
Indoor pets are accustomed to the ideal temperatures that we enjoy in our homes. However, when these pets are suddenly forced outside and they experience extreme temperatures, these pets can face some serious issues. They can suffer from heat stress, or become dangerously cold. To get your pet used to the changes in temperature in a healthy and safe manner, slowly acclimate him to outdoor temperatures when necessary. Start your pet with short periods of outdoor time. Then gradually increase his length of exposure.
-- Adjust Food and Water Portions
Adjusting how much food and water you give to your pet is important when she starts spending more time outside. Owners get accustomed to doling out a certain amount of food and water for their indoor pets. But when you make the switch to the outdoors, especially when the temperature is cold, you have to increase the amount of food you give to your pet. She will need more calories to keep her body temperature normal. And when it is very warm, she will drink significantly more water if left outside. So make sure to adjust her nutrition accordingly.

Diligence in these areas will make the indoor-outdoor transition much easier on your pets and will help you avoid some potentially serious health problems for your four-legged friends.


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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