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 remember that, while autumn can be fun, it can also cause a variety of problems for your pet. Here are some things you need to bear in mind...
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, since they cannot regulate their body temperature as efficiently as younger animals. So consider buying dogs a pet jacket for walks. Also, provide them with extra bedding – particularly for cats and dogs that suffer from arthritis since the cold can aggravate joints.
Provide some shelter for cats that spend time outside, such as a designated shelter, or a cardboard box partially covered with plastic sheeting.
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.
Move your rabbits’ 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 change your dog’s walking or feeding routine
Because it’s dark in the mornings and evenings, the temptation is to go for less frequent 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 yourself and a reflective collar for your canine companion.
As far as your dog’s diet goes, there are plenty of animal lovers who will tell you that, as it gets colder, you need to fatten your pet up to insulate against the dropping temperatures. However, while that may be somewhat true if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors or is a working dog (some additional calories are needed to keep their body temperature regulated), the same isn’t true for all dogs.
If your dog spends a vast amount of their time indoors, then there is no need to add any additional calories to their diet – the same applies to cats.
As always though, consult your vet to ensure your dog gets the correct dietary advice for them.
Be aware of common autumn poisons
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. Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include:
- Appearing uncoordinated
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive urination
- Fast heart rate
- Seizures or tremors
These symptoms are all indicators of possible kidney failure. 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.
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 out on walks.
Acorns from oak trees are also poisonous for your dog. The symptoms of poisoning can take a whole day to manifest themselves and can include 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.
Luminous necklaces or glow sticks that are commonly used during Halloween and 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 your pet’s reach so they are unable to ingest them.
Do you have any tips for keeping your pet safe this autumn? Let us know on social media, using the tag #PethoodStories.