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Autumn Hazards

Autumn Hazards

Autumn is fast approaching which means new smells, new adventures but also, new hazards for our pets. Being aware of these hazards and how to minimize them is important.

Whilst out walking, ticks (and maybe fleas too) will be present in higher numbers in the mild but damp autumn weather. They are present throughout the year but become more apparent in autumn, so ensure you check their coat regularly after walks. Ticks are normally found on the areas of the body that have been closest to the ground. They vary in size depending on how much blood they have drunk! Make sure your pet’s flea and tick treatments are up to date. If you are unsure about which products to use, please contact us and we can weigh your pet to ensure the dose is correct, as well as suggesting the best products. Prevention is key with ectoparasites, as getting rid of an established flea infestation can take up to 6 months, even when a strict cleaning protocol is followed… And ticks can transmit dangerous infections such as Lyme Disease after just one bite if they are not killed fast enough.

Colder temperatures mean you may find pets and wild animals hiding in warm, but unusual places. Check around your car before starting the engine, as cats and other animals enjoy sleeping underneath and in wheel arches. Always check any sheds or outbuildings to ensure you have not accidentally locked wildlife away and keep them locked when they are not in use. If you let your cat out during the day time, please ensure you have a cat flap fitted so your pet can always get back inside should they want to. This reduces the chances of them seeking shelter elsewhere.

Animals living in outdoor cages should be moved into a shed or kept indoors to help maintain a consistent temperature throughout the day and night time. Extra protection such as blankets and extra bedding should be added to secure thermal protection as the weather gets colder. In autumn, the nights can be much cooler than the days and the temperature change, including the windchill, can be very unpredictable. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and prepare for the worst. Smaller pets are much more likely to suffer from hypothermia than larger pets because they have a larger surface area to volume ratio, so lose more heat from their skin.

Antifreeze solution is toxic to both cats and dogs. Ensure you store it out of reach so they cannot drink it from the bottle. If any is spilt, mop it up immediately and dispose of the cloth. Symptoms that your pet has ingested antifreeze include incoordination, nausea, excessive urination and diarrhoea, weakness in their muscles, tremors, increased heart rate and depression. If any of these symptoms are seen then you should contact us as soon as possible – the quicker we are alerted and take action, the better the prognosis. If untreated, kidney failure and death are sadly common.

Daylight hours decrease throughout autumn affecting your exercise routine and commonly, your pets exercise routine. Cats who go outside freely may go out less as the conditions seem less appealing. It is therefore important that you monitor your pet’s weight and alter their diet accordingly – reducing their calorie intake if their exercise level reduces. For those dark evening walks, you could purchase a powerful torch or reflective jacket: these are also available for dogs! Consider taking your dog for shorter walks on illuminated streets where hazards are easy to identify. A short walk is better than no walk.

Fireworks are frequently used in autumn as we celebrate Halloween and bonfire night. It is vital to stay with your pet during their first exposure to fireworks so you can analyse their response and behaviour. If you’ve previously witnessed your pet suffer anxiety from fireworks, please contact us as soon as possible before you expect exposure to fireworks, in order to allow the medication to work correctly. Ideally, outdoor pets should be kept indoors for celebration days to reduce stress levels – remember pets’ hearing is often much, much better than ours, so they hear fireworks and high pitch noises in much greater detail than we do.

Halloween is an important celebration in autumn. You should resist dressing up your pet, despite how docile they may be. Decorating your house should be kept to a minimum too. Pets may choke on any dangly decorations which look fun to play with, which could be fatal. Additional accessories, both on and off the pet, cause direct hazards – they could get caught on other objects or even result in an allergic reaction to new, in contact materials. Make sure all those treats are kept out of reach of your pets. Cocoa is toxic to cats and dogs and it is important to teach young children about this, so they do not share their treats with their pets. If pumpkin lanterns have been lit, they may cause burns to your pets, which could scar them for life. If your pet becomes excited and runs past a pumpkin, knocking it over, they may start a fire.

Our pets may feel intimidated and frightened by people’s fancy dress, which may lead to aggression due to fear and terror. Keeping your pet away from this celebration is sensible. Any aggressive dog, regardless of how it has been provoked, may be subject to euthanasia following an attack.

All of these different stimuli may be frightening for our pet. Often an animal’s first instinct, if scared, is to run away. Make sure microchip details are up to date to help increase the chance of them being returned. Any veterinary practice is able to scan lost pets in the hope they can retrieve the owners details and reunite the pet and owner.

Autumn can be a really enjoyable time of year for us with so much to celebrate – with the correct precautions, our pets can enjoy it too!