April Pet Holidays for 2024

April is Heartworm Awareness Month across the nation. This disease is prevalent in all parts of our country since dogs travel often with their owners. When I started practicing over 35 years ago, pet owners had to give dogs a daily tablet to protect against heartworm disease. We only did prevention 3 seasons since mosquitoes are not a concern in the winter months. Every dog had a heartworm test in the spring. As you can imagine the spring schedule was intense because if they came in for the heartworm test, they wanted to do everything at the same time. During my senior year of veterinary school my last rotation was a preceptorship for the 6 weeks before graduation. That was a huge plus looking for jobs because I was able to start in April and help during that busy season. My first job was in St. Cloud, Minnesota at Granite City Pet Hospital. It was a newer practice with a seasoned veterinarian who was growing his business and needed assistance. My husband and I both visited the area and after our interviews we both were given a thumbs up that we would have jobs waiting for us if we accepted. Dan would move from Farm Credit Services in Perry, Iowa to continue his role with them in St. Cloud, MN. I would begin working as a veterinarian under the supervision of the current owner until passing my National and State boards. As it worked out, we spent the next 12 years in the St. Cloud area.

Today Heartworm prevention looks very different. For instance, cats are a secondary host for heartworms and causes lung disease if exposed. We never had options for cat prevention until recently. Now there is a product called Revolution Plus that protects cats against heartworms as well. We now have an annual injection called Proheart 12 for all dogs over 12 months of age to prevent heartworm disease. This new product has allowed owners to focus only on flea and tick prevention at home. We do heartworm prevention year-round because these products do not stop infection on day 1 when given. They are slowly released over the course of the year and knock down the larva as they mature. Also, so many are traveling with pets that many exposures are happening as people seek warmer climates. The winter even here in Iowa has changed enough that we have ticks year-round now. Prevention is key when it comes to protecting our pets against these diseases.   

April 1-7th is International Pooper Scooper Week. Who would have known there would be a week for this. The week is designed to encourage people to pick up poop after their pet(s). There is a concern about pet waste contaminating the water supply and surrounding environments. Poop broken down by the sun can still spread intestinal parasites to other dogs that sniff in the location of the decaying stool. Some dogs tend to eat poop so by being a good canine pet owner and removing their waste we can prevent other diseases from occurring. Many cities have ordinances that fine people for not picking up after their pet(s). I have seen fines anywhere from $100 – 1000 for failure to comply.  The city of Winterset has an ordinance stating in section 3.1304 and 3.1305 about clean up and penalties associated with dog poop. The fines start small but increase over time for multiple offenses. If you need some light reading material before bed, check out Chapter 13, pages 131-132 in the following link:

April 2nd is Ferret Day. A lot of people do not think of ferrets as pets. Any owners I have known over the years, if they have one, they have multiples. They are inquisitive and can be very entertaining as you watch them explore the world around them. Care is often centered around spay and neuter. There are no vaccinations specifically for ferrets, but we use the canine distemper vaccination and rabies for dogs and cats if needed. Some people want to descent a ferret to reduce odor. It is important to know they will still have a musky odor since the skin has glands that secrete oils as well.

April 11th is National Pet Day. Is there ever a day that our pets are not front and center?  2006 was the first year this holiday was recognized. The founder, Colleen Paige, wanted to celebrate the joy that pets bring to our lives but also raise awareness for all the pets waiting in shelters to be adopted. She also was the founder of National Dog Day and National Cat Day.  Think about posting a photo of you with your pet(s) on Thursday April 11th to recognize the joy and health benefits you receive from your pet(s).

April 14-21, 2024 is National Dog Bite Prevention week. For years I would spend a day each spring at one of the 3 different schools in our county discussing Dog Bites and how to prevent them. It was part of the Health and Safety Fair funded by Madison County Cares and Madison County Health Care System. It ran for 12 straight years but then Covid hit. As with many programs, it was never scheduled again. I have kept my poster hoping that one day there will be a place to share this valuable information again. The misunderstanding is that only certain breeds are dangerous. Over 30 different breeds of dogs have killed people. Most of the injured are children and most bites happen with a dog that is familiar to the victim. Please teach your children to ASK to pet a person’s dog. HOLD OUT THEIR HAND to let the dog sniff them before approaching any closer. If the dog growls or raises a lip or snaps they will be farther away to react and avoid serious injury. Those two simple things can reduce the incidence of dog bites.

April 27, 2024 is World Veterinary Day. This celebration takes place every year the last Saturday of April. It was established in the year 2000 to celebrate those in the veterinary profession. They wanted to acknowledge not only the veterinarians but also the staff that help keep our pets healthy and disease free. Did you know that the first veterinary college was opened in 1761 in France? If interested in learning more about the World Veterinary Association or how you can celebrate World Veterinary Day follow this link:

World Veterinary Day (April 27th, 2024) | Days Of The Year

April 30th is National Therapy Animal Day. There seems to be a lot of confusion about service dogs, therapy dogs, or emotional support dogs.  In April 2017 I wrote a blog about these terminologies hoping to help people understand the difference.

Is This a Service Animal, Therapy Animal, or Pet? Winterset Veterinary Center Blog

There is a place for therapy dogs trained and certified to help people during a crisis or illness. Please do not try to pass your personal pet off as a therapy or service dog or cat. When people do these things, it makes it more difficult for those who truly do need their service dog or therapy animal to go to public spaces with them.  The following link shares more information about National Therapy Animal Day if you are interested in celebrating this event with a special therapy dog or cat.

National Therapy Animal Day

Multiple other holidays are in the month of April that you can look up in the attached link. It is difficult to list them all. I just decided to touch on a few of them.

National Dog Day and 150+ Other Pet Holidays to … Happy Spring and Happy Easter to all my readers. Get out and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. Only 6 months before the first frost shows up again. Got to take advantage of these longer days. Easter seems early this year. Looking at past history, Easter usually falls on a Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th. Good thing the flowers started early too.