As autumn approaches, the days become shorter and colder and adaptations to our pets’ lives may be needed in order to keep them healthy and happy.
What adaptations should I consider making to my pets’ lifestyle?
The day length gets much shorter and the days are getting colder. This may put us off walking our pets - but this should not be the case. We need to keep our pet's lifestyle as consistent as possible. We can do this by keeping the frequency and walk length as constant as possible.
Outdoors cats may want to come indoors sooner than usual. We should ensure cat flaps are available, or that pets can get indoors easily should they want to.
If your pet does get let out less and therefore get less exercise, it is important that you keep an eye on your pet's weight.
What are the risks of colder temperatures?
Small furry pets living outside will be greatly affected by the cold weather. You should consider bringing the cage indoors if possible. If this is not possible, the bedding should be thickened using extra sawdust, straw, hay or shavings. You can put blankets around the edge of the cage ensuring no drafts are getting to your pet. Ensure too that they have a constant water supply - frozen water is not easily accessible to your pet (drinking bottles with a metal spout are particularly prone to freezing up). Regularly check on your pet, if they are kept outside, for signs of hypothermia. These signs may include: fatigue, shivering, lethargy and lack of coordination.
Autumn is a tricky time of the year regarding turning your heating on inside the house. Reptiles living indoors may be affected by this decision. We recommend having a thermometer in your reptile's habitat so you can ensure the optimum temperature is maintained. Different animals require different temperatures to be maintained. Although heat mats and lamps can be used, it is worth checking, to monitor the temperature, as it will be influenced by external temperatures.
What toxins should I be aware of at this time of year?
Antifreeze may be needed this autumn. Be sure to seal the lid before and after use of the product. Should the product be spilled, it needs to be cleaned rapidly. Should your cat or dog lick or drink any antifreeze, you should seek veterinary attention immediately - poisoning is fast and, sadly, often fatal.
Conkers fall around autumn time. These are toxic to our pets, and may also block the bowel. Intervene if your pet starts to chew conkers.
If you suspect any interactions with toxic substances and notice behaviour changes, sweating, hypersalivation, sickness or any clinical signs, contact us immediately.
How does autumn affect wildlife?
Hedgehogs may hide under cars or in sheds as these are warm places. Many animals find the warmth of a car engine and the shelter of the car suitable to spend their evenings. Checking under your car before driving off could save an animal’s life! You should check these locations regularly. Ensure you have not trapped any pets inside locked habitats. They may not have access to food or water for long periods of time leading to death.
Safety over Halloween
We recommend in general not to dress your pet up. It is not normal for most pets to wear clothes, as they may become uncomfortable and stressed out. If you do decide to dress your pet up, make sure you do not leave them unattended while wearing fancy dress as they may choke on any dangly parts, get caught on other objects or even have an allergic reaction. These risks are similar to any decoration placed around the house. Ensure you do not stress your pet out unnecessarily.
Make sure you keep the collar on your pet when dressing them up so if they do go missing, the chances of them being returned is increased.
However, it’s not just dressing them up - our pets may feel intimidated and frightened by humans in fancy dress. Equally, they may be excited due to large groups of people. All of these emotions and changes to their environment may cause unpredictable, or even aggressive behaviour. We advise that you keep your pets away from the door to prevent any unpleasant surprises and to prevent them from running away if they do become frightened.
Sweet Treats and Decorations
Make sure all goodies, including those used for trick or treat, are kept out of reach of your pets. Remember cocoa is toxic to cats and dogs.
Ensure all pumpkins are kept out of reach of pets. If they have been lit, they may burn your pets causing extreme pain and scars which may last a lifetime. If your pet runs past the pumpkin knocking it over, they may start a fire. Glow sticks can irritate animals too, if ingested, so be sure to keep them away from your pet.
What should I do if my pet is frightened of fireworks?
Keeping your pet indoors, in a place they are familiar with, can help to settle your pet's fears. Keeping your pets indoors muffles the noise and prevents the risk of them running away. For many animals, bolting is a natural instinct as a method of getting away from danger, so microchipping pets is a great way to increase the chances of having your pet returned to you. However, if you keep your pet indoors in the evenings when you feel they may become fearful, you reduce the chances of them running away at all.
When stressed, many cats, as well as dogs, require company and calm down when in the company of their owner. They feel much more relaxed around people they know. It is a good idea to stay indoors with your pets if they suffer from fear and anxiety during the autumn season, when fireworks are released much more frequently.
If your dog shows any signs of anxiety, you should leave them to settle alone in a room where nobody can disturb them or, if they prefer being in company, ensure they are not surrounded by people in fancy dress. An intimidated animal may make it dangerous to be around.
If you believe the anxiety and fear caused requires medication, you must bring your pet to see the vet. Medication can not be prescribed without a thorough clinical exam which can be performed by any of our vets.
Working together, we can improve the health and happiness of our pets. So if you’re in any doubt, give us a ring for advice!