Autumn Pet Advice
Spaniel dog outside in forest autumn

Autumn Health Advice

Keep your pets happy and healthy during the autumn and winter months.

Fleas, ticks and fireworks are just some of the 'usual suspects' that can cause considerable irritation and damage to the health of your pets this autumn. Also remember Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night are upon us. These events can be a particularly scary time for our pets. Read our tips below.

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Sound sensitivities, including fireworks, are very common in dogs and reactions range from mild to extreme. While a certain degree of fear is normal, it becomes distressing for both you and your dog if this fear is or becomes severe.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Ears back
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Shaking
  • Hiding away
  • Barking excessively
  • Messing in the house

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Although loud noises are very frightening for cats too, they don’t always seem to show as many behavioural changes as dogs do. The bigger problem for cats is often stress caused by changes to their environment or routine, especially when they are used to being outdoors and this changes to being kept in the house more.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Excessive grooming
  • House soiling
  • Vertical scratch marketing
  • Less interaction with you
  • Acting withdrawn
  • Hiding away
  • Over or under eating

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Rabbits and guinea pigs are even less likely than cats to show signs of fear but this doesn’t mean bonfire night isn’t a distressing and frightening time for them as well. You can really help your furry friend by making a few simple changes to their environment which will help keep them as calm and comfortable as possible.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Stamping their back legs
  • Restlessness or just staying motionless
  • Attempting to escape or hide
  • Aggression
  • Grinding their teeth
  • Reduced appetite - this can be very dangerous in rabbits and guinea pigs!
  • Change in toileting habits

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Halloween is a time for fun and games for most families but it can pose certain threats and risks to our pets.

  • Pumpkins are a classic element of Halloween, and whilst they are non-toxic, they can cause stomach upsets if large amounts are eaten. If you are carving a pumpkin, make sure to move it well out of your pet’s reach and safely remove any excess.
  • Use electric candles to minimise the risk of signed whiskers and more serious burns. Be careful with sparklers as these can be very frightening to some pets.
  • Beware of your pet’s chewing glowsticks! The oily liquid found inside these tastes very bad and can cause severe drooling and foaming at the mouth.
  • Always check bonfires before lighting them, especially if they have been built for a while. They can form an ideal hiding place for cats and wildlife.
  • Trick or treat? Popular Halloween treats like sweets and chocolate are toxic to pets, so should always be kept well out of reach. If your pet does manage to eat any treats you should contact your local vet immediately.
  • Taking your dog trick or treating with you? Make sure that they are microchipped (it’s the law) just in case they become spooked and run away. You can easily get your pet’s microchip checked at your local practice. Always make that all your contact details are kept up-to-date.

Read more about keeping your pet safe this Halloween

Dogs love to explore the great outdoors and often end up sticking their nose into and even eating a variety of things that they find when out and about. Whilst this doesn’t normally cause any serious issues, it can be dangerous if they ingest slugs and snails carrying the parasite lungworm.

The signs of a lungworm infection include, coughing, breathlessness, weight loss, reduced appetite and diarrhoea. In more advanced cases it can cause spontaneous bleeding and fits. If you spot any of these signs contact your local vet immediately.

To help prevent lungworm infection bring dog toys and water bowls indoors at night and don’t let your dog play with sticks, as these can all be covered in snail and slug slime.

We always believe that prevention is better than cure. Our vets can prescribe a regular monthly treatment to keep your dog safe from the parasite. Pop into your nearest surgery and we will be happy to help with any further information.

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Adult fleas are tiny dark brown, wingless insects that can jump up to 165 times their own length and are easily spread by contact from one animal to another.

One of the reasons fleas thrive in autumn is that we spend more time indoors, shut our vents and windows and turn on the heating. These are ideal conditions for the hatching flea eggs and development of flea larvae which may have been quietly hiding in your carpets and furnishings.

The best way to check for fleas on your pet is to look for "flea dirt" which is dried specks of blood extracted by the flea. The best way to check for flea dirt is to comb through your pet’s coat onto a wet piece of kitchen roll or paper. If the specks turn red/brown, then you know your pet has fleas.

Don’t wait for your pet to itch or scratch before thinking about flea treatments. Effective and regular flea control will help make sure your pet and your house stay flea free.

At Vets4Pets, our vets can prescribe effective treatments that, used regularly, will prevent flea infestation.

Read more about protecting your dog from fleas

Read more about protecting your cat from fleas

Ticks are small biting insects with powerful jaws and a big round body compared to the size of their head. Generally, ticks wait on grass and plants ready to bite your cat or dog as they go past. They bury their head deep in the skin and feed on blood.

The main risk from tick bites in the UK to both humans and pets is Lyme disease, so it's important to remove a tick as soon as you identify it to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

It’s really important that the tick is removed correctly. A special tool called a tick hook can help remove any ticks safely, ask your local surgery how to do this. Don’t try any of the old wives tales (burning, Vaseline, whiskey) that you may heard of, they increase the danger leaving the tick’s mouthparts behind. Always make sure you dispose of any ticks properly and never release a live tick back into the environment.

As usual prevention is better than cure and your vet will have a range of tick preventatives to suit your pet. These come in the form of sprays, spot-on treatments, collars and tablets. Our Complete Care Health Plan helps to protect your pet against ticks, find out more here.

Read more about protecting your dog from ticks

Read more about protecting your cat from ticks