Autumn Hazards for Pets and Keeping Them Safe
After a wonderful long hot summer here in the UK, many of us will be looking forward to autumn. Our furry friends will certainly be glad to have some cooler weather. However, autumn is not without its hazards, but a little bit of knowledge can go a long way in keeping your pets healthy and happy at this time of year.
Vivid colours and falling leaves are probably the first things to spring to mind when you imagine autumn. The satisfying crunch of freshly fallen leaves underfoot is the soundtrack to many autumn strolls. However, when these piles become old and damp they can pose a threat to our canine friends. The moist dark conditions in these piles become a breeding ground for potentially harmful microorganisms. If eaten these can cause stomach problems and lead to vomiting or diarrhoea. You can prevent this by clearing leaves from your garden and discouraging eating leaves from old piles when out on walks.
Leaves aren’t the only thing falling from trees at this time of year. Acorns and conkers will also be collecting on the ground. Although popular with children (who doesn’t remember playing conkers as a child?), they can be very harmful to dogs if eaten. Not only can they present a choking hazard, they also contain some very toxic natural chemicals that can result in serious illness. So, try to discourage your pets from picking up acorns or conkers by distracting them with treats or avoiding walking in these areas through the autumn. If you suspect your dog has eaten either acorns or conkers, then it’s a good idea to get in touch with us for advice and monitor them closely.
Most plants have bloomed and disappeared again by this time of year but not all. Chrysanthemums, Autumn Crocus and Clematis all start to emerge in autumn. Although they look stunning in the garden, the stems and leaves of these plants are toxic to both cats and dogs. They cause a variety of signs from skin irritation to diarrhoea and more serious illnesses. Mushrooms may also start to appear in your garden and local green spaces. Despite not all varieties of mushroom being poisonous, it can be very hard to differentiate between harmful and non-harmful varieties. In the case of both the plants and mushrooms, the easiest way to keep your pets safe is to avoid contact with them.
As the days get cooler you may start to notice more unwanted rodents around. If you choose to use rodenticides, then remember that they will be just as harmful to your own pets as the pests you are trying to get rid of. Make sure that your pets (and neighbours’ pets) are unable to get to any poison you put out and store unused poison securely away from pets and children. The cooler weather also means people are using antifreeze. The sweet taste of antifreeze can seem like an irresistible treat to cats and some dogs, but it is in fact extremely toxic. If you do suspect your pet has managed to ingest any rat poison or antifreeze, then get them to us as soon as possible. The sooner these pets are treated the better their chances of recovering.
Although the cooler autumn weather is a welcome prospect for most pet owners the weather can be tough at this time of year for some pets. Old or vulnerable dogs may benefit from a good winter coat to help them cope with chilly walks. It also becomes important to towel your pets down if you get caught in the rain, to help them warm up quicker. Most cats may still spend most of their time outdoors but it’s important to make sure they have a way of getting back into the warmth of your home if they choose. For rabbits and other small creatures, a hutch cosy can be a great way to keep them warm while still being able to live outdoors at this time of year. Plenty of warm dry bedding is also essential as well as regular water bottle checks, as a frozen bottle won’t be providing any water.
After enjoying the long summer days, the daylight hours are now slowly creeping away. For early morning or late evening walks you may find yourself venturing out in dim light conditions or even darkness. Something as simple as a flashing collar can really help improve your pet’s visibility in these conditions. Not only will this make them more visible to any cars but also to you if they are allowed to run off the lead.
One final thing to mention is flea and tick control. We often think of parasites like these as a summer problem, but they can be just as prevalent in autumn. The warmth of your pet and home are an attractive option for these critters when the conditions outside are turning hostile. Therefore, we recommend that you keep up with a regular flea and tick control regime throughout the year. This will also improve the efficacy of the products you are using and help you remain pest free all year round.
We hope that this information has been useful. Hopefully, it will enable you to confidently keep your pet safe and enjoy the changing season. Remember that if you have any concerns or worries then any of our vets will be happy to chat with you and help solve any problems.