Autumn! The season for muddy walks on ground covered in fallen leaves, the days getting shorter and the weather getting chillier. It can be a fun season for pets, with cats playing with leaves caught by the wind and dogs gambolling through muddy puddles. However, along with all this fun, there are some autumnal dangers to be aware of as pet owners, and plenty that we can be doing to keep our precious animals safe and sound.
As the nights draw in, it’s important to keep our pets safe. Sadly, the number of cats involved in road traffic accidents is higher at this time of year, and dogs walked in the dark can be easily spooked and harder to recall. Keep your pets safe by ensuring they are microchipped, and make them more visible in the dark using reflective collars or lights. If possible, walk dogs during daylight hours and keep cats inside during rush hour periods or overnight.
Getting out and about is beneficial for our health and wellbeing, but watch out for seasonal plant hazards. Acorns, especially when still green, contain tannic acid, a toxin which can cause stomach upsets in pets. In large quantities, it can even lead to liver and kidney failure. Acorns can also cause choking or a gastrointestinal blockage if eaten. Conkers are similarly problematic, as they contain the aesculin toxin which can cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea, and more severe illness if enough are eaten. They can also cause a gut obstruction if swallowed.
This is the time for spring bulbs to be planted, but it is recommended to get them safely underground as soon as possible. Bulbs are a tempting toy to animals, as they roll around when batted with a paw and are a good size to gnaw on. However, daffodil, tulip and crocus bulbs can all be very toxic to cats and dogs if eaten.
If you live in an area where mushrooms and toadstools are growing, bear in mind that some may be extremely toxic. It is unlikely that dogs and cats would eat them, but pets can be curious and playful, and it is always best to minimise risk.
As autumn progresses, many fruit trees will drop their fruit to the ground. Most fruits are harmless to pets, but in some cases the seeds, pips or stones can be a health concern. Fruit which has gone mouldy can be particularly bad due to toxins released and should always be avoided.
Many people enjoy the festivities associated with Halloween, but pet owners should make sure their chosen celebrations are pet safe. Chocolate, raisins and many nuts (especially if salted) are all harmful to cats and dogs, so should be kept well away from our furry friends. Some decorations can be a strangulation or choking hazard, and candles (such as those in a carved pumpkin) are a burns risk to a curious paw or nose. Pet costumes are popular, but always make sure your pet is happy and content with any adornments. Some cats and dogs will freeze if they are uncomfortable in a situation, making it seem like they are tolerant when in fact they are scared. Consider a jazzy bandana or collar instead of a full outfit!
If you are hosting a party, or are expecting lots of doorstep activity and noise, consider setting up a comfy hiding place for your cat or dog. Keep them inside after dark when the festivities start and settle them with a treat and a comfy bed in a quiet room. Luminous necklaces and glowsticks usually contain chemicals which cause irritation to the mouth, leading to frothing, drooling, and vomiting if chewed so always keep these out of reach.
Bonfire Night means fireworks, the bane of pet owners everywhere! This can be a very stressful time for pets – including cats, dogs, horses, and small mammals such as rabbits and guinea pigs! If you have plenty of time before the big day, try a desensitisation program. This involves playing fireworks sounds to your pet very quietly, and then gradually increasing the volume until they are comfortable with the bangs and crashes.
If Fireworks Night is approaching fast, concentrate on helping your pet feel safe and secure. Always give plenty of reassurance if your pet is distressed, and never punish them. Bring outdoor pets inside, if you can. Provide a safe, cosy bed, pull the curtains and play some music to drown out the intermittent bangs, and try to stay with your pet for extra comfort.
If you know that your pet reacts very badly to fireworks and will be in distress, come and have a talk with us. We can discuss ways to help, such as pheromone diffusers, calming supplements and anti-anxiety medications.
As the weather turns colder, you and your neighbours may start using antifreeze on your vehicles for those frosty mornings. Antifreeze is incredibly toxic to cats (and is really bad for dogs too, for that matter), and even a small amount licked from a driveway – it tastes sweet – can lead to severe illness. Initial signs include vomiting, drooling and wobbly, uncoordinated walking. If you are concerned about your pet, seek veterinary advice immediately.
It is common to see a resurgence of flea infestations in the autumn, as central heating is turned on and optimal conditions for egg hatching are reached. Ticks are also active in these months, and as well as causing nasty bites they can carry blood-borne diseases. Parasite protection should be continued all year round for our pets, after discussion with one of our vets.
Autumn: Final Thoughts
The later months of the year are often a time for warm jackets, long strolls through colourful woods and snuggling up with our furry companions. There are plenty of things about autumn to enjoy with our pets, but there are also some seasonal hazards to avoid. Keep your pets warm, visible and safe at all times, be vigilant for any ingestion of inappropriate things, and keep any festivities pet friendly. Happy Autumn!
Categorised in: News