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A dog owner’s guide to autumn

How much do you actually know about this golden season, and what does it mean for your dogs?

  • Fallen leaves are a lot of fun for you and your dog to play in, but don’t forget that piles of leaves can hide all kinds of hazards, from stones, to broken glass, dog poo, even hedgehogs, so be careful!
  • Shorter days means dog walking times need to be altered, as you no longer have the luxury of bright early mornings and long, light evenings, but your dog still needs just as much exercise.  If you have to walk in the dark, look out your reflective clothing, dog leads, and collars, and maybe invest in a collar that lights up, and also a good torch.
  • The first is an early autumn hazard and that is the dreaded harvest mite. Almost invisible, these tiny orange specks can be seen if you look very closely between your dog’s toes. They are responsible for intense itching and chewing, and can cause your dog untold misery. If your dog is chewing his paws, take him to your vet, as while these mites drive your dog crazy, they are easily treated (although sometimes surprisingly persistent).
  • Autumn is also a time for mushrooms and berries, some of which are poisonous to dogs. If you think your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t (especially mushrooms), take a photo of the item he has eaten (if he’s left any), and contact your vet immediately.
  •  The changing of the season often brings rain, and, of course, mud! Make sure you have looked out your wet weather gear and your wellies, and check these for leaks before the rain starts; you don’t want to discover these when you are knee-deep in a puddle. Make sure you have some mild dog shampoo and washing facilities for your dog, too. If you put protective clothing of any kind on your dog, to keep out the rain or the cold, it’s time to dig it out from that cupboard, and check it over.
  • Colder nights and frosty starts can mean icy roads, which means the gritter trucks will be out to try to prevent slippery (or even snowy) roads. This grit and rock salt can injure paws, causing pain and irritation, especially if it becomes compacted with snow or ice as well. It can also be toxic to dogs if they lick it off their paws, causing everything from thirst, to vomiting, lethargy, and, in severe cases, kidney damage. If you’ve been walking anywhere where there is salt on the road or pavement, make sure you wash your dog’s paws, legs, and stomach when you get home. If you think your dog has eaten any rock salt, contact your vet.

Every time of year can be enjoyable for dog owners, but there is something magical about autumn, so get out there and have some fun!