Tips to keep your pets safe in the autumn!
The evenings are getting darker earlier and the days are less warm so that must mean autumn has arrived. Here are a few tips to make sure that your pet is safe from harm as the nights draw in.
Autumn health issues
Physical Health Issues – Do not forget to keep on treating your pets for fleas and ticks! These pests are active all year round, rather than becoming dormant, as it gets cooler, the heating being turned on, and fires being lit, will encourage them out of hiding to breed!
Harvest mites are also a problem in autumn. These mites live in dense and are most active at the warmest part of the day. They are usually found in large numbers – an infestation looks similar to red/orange coloured dust or sand - and feed on skin cells. The mites typically feed for 2 or 3 days and then drop off leaving an itchy skin rash that can last for several weeks.
The mites are very resistant to most treatments so, if possible walk your dog the cooler parts of the day and in areas that are less likely to colonise. There is no licensed preventative treatment that acts specifically on harvest mites so if you do see signs of the mites you should make a visit to your vet for advice and treatment.
Be aware of Seasonal canine illness (SCI) too. SCI is an illness that appears in the autumn, the symptoms of which appear 24 to 72 hours after a woodland walk and include vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy. If you notice your dog displaying these symptoms you should seek veterinary assistance since many dogs that have been affected have become fatally ill.
A fairly common ailment as a result of the changing seasons - as with humans - is aching joints. If your pet suffers from joint issues, including arthritis make sure you are aware of the ways in which you can help to manage the condition by reading our dedicated advice page on the subject.
Psychological Health Issues - Consider the psychological health of your pets too! We have already covered the stress and anxiety that fireworks cause but we often forget other events like Halloween.
Some pets don’t appear to mind being dressed up but many find the experience stressful and uncomfortable. Their experience of Halloween is made all the more stressful by the fact that the doorbell keeps on ringing and strangers keep on appearing.
Another psychological stressor is the new school year. Once the school holidays are over the change in routine from having a house full of people might mean your pet need some adjustment and some pets might exhibit signs of separation anxiety.
Autumn also brings with it new vegetation and foods; as well as party foods for the various seasonal festivals, such as sweets and chocolate for Halloween trick or treat-ers or Diwali. We described the dangers of chocolate in an earlier post but let us remind ourselves of some of the toxic foods and products that we need to be aware of.
- An A to Z of pet poisons – Drugs (pet and non-pet) and health and beauty products
- An A to Z of pet poisons – household and garden items
- An A to Z of pet poisons - flowers, plants and trees
- An A to Z of pet poisons – food
Consider purchasing your dog a jacket for when you take them for a walk to keep them warm and to keep them visible in the darker evenings. Don’t forget to wear bright colours and/or a reflective jacket too!
Bedding is also important, particularly for older pets with arthritic joints. There are many different types of beds available, so make sure you have a bed is the right size for your pet and consider adding a heating pad, joint care supplements and/or giving them a joint supporting diet.
When you groom your pet also pay attention to their paws, with reduced activity their nails and claws are likely to be longer than usual because they haven’t been worn down. If you are worried about clipping your pet's nails or claws, either visit a professional groomer or seek advice from your vet.
Small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs tend to lose heat quickly, so if they have hutches outside they should be moved to a warmer spot such as a garage or shed.
Never use hot water bottles or electric blankets as an alternative heat source because small animals can burn easily.
Add extra bedding or insulation such as a blanket or piece of carpet over the top their cage, ensure, though, that there is good ventilation in their habitat. Some should hang over the front too in order to protect against the elements.
Make sure that their hutch or cage is raised from the ground. This will help prevent it from becoming damp and cold, and it will also improve air circulation.
Pay attention to the room temperature, rabbits’ optimal air temperature, for example, is around 10 to 20 degrees C.
As always, if you are unsure about something, or have any concerns about your pet’s health, do speak to your veterinarian who will be happy to help with any queries you may have.