How to keep your pets safe and healthy during autumn

Autumn can be a great time of year – the chunky scarves and thick coats come out, your garden becomes a blaze of reds and yellows, and, of course, there’s the joy of letting your cat or dog leap about in piles of crisp leaves.

However it’s vital to keep in mind that, while autumn can be fun, it can also play host to a variety of problems for your pet.

Petplan looks at some of the things you need to keep an eye out for...

Just because they have a fur coat doesn’t mean they don’t feel the cold…

* As the temperature drops, pets can also suffer from the cold – particularly elderly pets as they cannot regulate their body temperature as efficiently as younger animals. Therefore you should consider buying dogs a pet jacket for walks. Also provide them with extra bedding – particularly for cats and dogs that suffer from Arthritis as the cold can aggravate joints.

* Provide some shelter for cats that spend time outside, such as a designated shelter, or cardboard box partially covered with plastic sheeting.

* You should be wary when starting your car as cats often like to climb into vehicle engines for warmth. Check under your bonnet and the tyre rims thoroughly or give a knock on the bonnet before you start the engine.

* For rabbits and small furries, move their hutch to a warmer place such as a garage or shed and provide them with extra bedding so they are able to stay warm.

Don’t skip your dog’s walking routine…

* Because it’s dark in the mornings and evenings, the temptation is to go for more infrequent walks with your dog. This could lead to your dog putting on weight and the health risks associated with weight gain. Behavioural problems such as hyperactive behaviour and chewing may also occur as a way for your dog to exert energy.

* In addition to this, walks at night can be slightly more dangerous if you live near busy roads. It’s worth investing in a reflective jacket for both you and your canine companion.

Common autumn poisons to be aware of…


Antifreeze poisoning

This is unfortunately a common occurrence during the colder months as cats and dogs are prone to drinking from puddles, ponds and standing water which makes them more susceptible to drinking contaminated water. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which is highly toxic but can be very appealing to pets due to its sweet taste. Therefore it’s vital any antifreeze products are stored away from pets and any spills are mopped up immediately.

If your pet did ingest antifreeze and was diagnosed early enough, they can recover but unfortunately, early warning signs are often subtle and symptoms include:

These symptoms are all secondary to kidney failure which can tragically lead to death and unfortunately once the kidneys have been affected, survival rates are very low.

If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze then contact your vet immediately.

Conker poisoning

It may seem surprising that one of the most defining symbols of autumn is in fact poisonous – but the humble conker is highly dangerous for dogs. If you suspect that your dog may have eaten one, take them to the vet without delay. Ingestion of conkers can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, salivation, excessive drinking, abdominal pain and a lack of appetite. Your dog may require fluid therapy and anti-vomiting medicine but should recover. The conkers themselves can also cause an intestinal blockage, which could be fatal, so make sure to keep a close eye on what your dog’s nibbling on when on walks.

Acorn poisoning

Acorns from oak trees are also poisonous for your dog. The symptoms can take a whole day to manifest themselves and can consist of retching, vomiting, pain, lethargy and diarrhoea. In extreme cases, the end result is permanent damage to the liver or kidneys, but if caught early this can be avoided. Consult your vet as soon as you suspect that your dog may have ingested an acorn.

Glow stick poisoning

Luminous necklaces or glow sticks that are commonly used during bonfire night can cause uncomfortable symptoms for your pet as the chemicals in them can cause dribbling, foaming at the mouth, stomach pain and vomiting. Although these symptoms aren’t nice for your pet, they rarely cause long term damage. Make sure you keep all such items out of reach for your pet so they are unable to ingest.

Do you have any tips for keeping your pet safe this autumn? Let us know in the comments below. Also check out Petplan’s top tips for keeping your pet safe on bonfire night