I find that there is something magical about Autumn. With the summer coming to a close, we look forward to those autumn scenes, harvest time and of course those beautiful autumn colours!
The cooler weather is helpful to some but a hindrance to others, and there are some things we dog people watch out for when the season turns.
"Autumn, the years last loveliest smile" -
William Cullen Bryant
Those of us who don’t always enjoy the heat of summer can now spring back into action again in the cooler mornings but still enjoy the autumn sunshine. A few dog breeds need to be extra careful in the heat, so the autumn comes as a relief for them. My young Border Collie loves to play in the leaves, and we have fun playing in the leaves together. My older boy hates the rain the autumn brings and just won’t go out without his coat! He just won’t!
Some dogs however find the cold a hinderance – whether they have thin coats, joint issues or are getting older; we find that the colder weather coming means a slight change to their care to keep them comfortable!
Autumn Safety and Care:
· Autumn Decorations and foods – some seasonal items can be dangerous. Seasonal decorations like acorns or conkers are poisonous if they are pinched from the display and eaten by curious paws. Halloween chocolate as I am sure we have all heard by now – is just not good for our dogs. It might be a good idea to check items before displaying, checking ingredients of new food items, and keeping anything potentially harmful well out of reach of counter surfers!
· Other poisonous products and items – as the weather gets colder, the salt used to grit the roads will be back, as will anti-freeze when it’s frosty. You could possibly find poisonous mushrooms growing in your local woods at this time of year. All these things are harmful if ingested. Mop up spills if they occur. It’s worth keeping an eye out where you’re walking and wash paws afterwards.
· Mud! One thing we have not missed since spring…mud. Can be surprisingly slippy in places which doesn’t go well with older dogs, joint issues… and shoes that don’t have good grip! If you can, it is always best to avoid particularly muddy walks altogether, for older dogs or dogs with joint issues. It can help a lot to wash or towel off mud after walks – that will save your car and your home! And to keep your dog comfortable and clean; you can get some innovative and helpful products these days to help with after walk washing and care. Have fun browsing the shops and internet for items that make your walks easier – I certainly do!
· Some paw balms can help support against cold temperatures on paws as well as dry and cracked paw pads.
· As mentioned above; Autumn and winter aren’t great seasons for dogs with joint issues, and for older dogs. Joint issues can become more uncomfortable in the colder weather, so extra care should be taken to make sure our pets are kept comfortable. Dogs who feel the cold may need extra bedding, especially at night-time, and coats and jumpers to keep the cold at bay! Speak to your Vet if you are worried about your pup’s older joints this winter.
· Some dogs can suffer with seasonal allergies in the autumn which can show itself as itching, redness, diarrhoea, watery eyes, swelling, ear infections and more. If you suspect allergies, it would be a good idea to speak with your Vet. Autumn isn’t an obvious time for environmental allergies, and isn’t common, but there are still a few plants that release allergens at this time of year.
· Don’t forget to check fences are still secure after high winds and storms to avoid any unexpected adventures!
· With the shortening days, after dark dog walks make a return. High visibility clothing, lights and equipment for you, and lights, leads, collars etc for your beloved friend, can be invaluable. Any equipment you have stored ready for this season can be checked before we get to it, to make sure they are working. This gives the opportunity to replace anything needed ahead of time.
· And lastly – the dreaded firework night. So stressful for so many! It’s always better to make plans in advance, seek advice if needed and buy any calming products etc that are needed in advance, so you are ready to go!
Ideas for making the most of the season:
· Foraging for blackberries. Foraging is natural for dogs and blackberries are a great addition to the diet in small quantities.
· Playing in the leaves – whether in your garden or on a walk this can be a fun diversion for the normal sights and sounds. Be careful of anything lingering underneath the leaves like stones or dog mess – that may be unpleasant (or worse) if disturbed and thrown with the leaves!
· What about trying an Autumn photo shoot at your local nature reserve or beauty spot? A fun and creative way to spend time together with something lovely to take home as well.
· Visiting Pumpkin fields is becoming more popular, to pick your pumpkin for Halloween. (dogs can also eat pumpkin but avoid giving too much however) Pumpkin fields tend to be dog friendly (and is another nice opportunity for a quick picture with your pooch!)
· Woodland Walks for Autumn leaves:The Countryfile website has a good page with some suggestions on locations to get you started! -
· Check out the internet (and our recent blog) on brain games and enrichment ideas. These can be really great for your dog, and really helpful when bad weather forces us indoors more.
· Any of course… a good old-fashioned cosy up on the sofa together, with a warming mug of soup and a tasty treat. Snugglefest!
What are your favourite autumn activities and best tips? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to share your autumn pictures and ideas on our social media!
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