The change of season from summer to autumn sees lots of changes in nature and our surroundings – greens turn to rust and gold, leaves fall and summer flowers give way to berries. As always there are things we need to be aware of that may affect our pets and their wellbeing. Here are some things to look out for this autumn.
Conkers and acorns
Hunting for conkers is one of autumn’s pleasures – searching through crunchy leaves until you spot a spiky shell, or perhaps the shiny gleam of one that has already started to open, but if your dog eats one it could be fatal. Firstly, the conker could cause a blockage due to its size and shape, and secondly all parts of the horse chestnut tree, including the leaves and conkers, contain a chemical called aesculin which can cause sickness, diarrhoea and pain leading to severe dehydration and toxic shock.
Acorns, which tend to be smaller and less noticeable so therefore more easily ingested, are also poisonous to dogs, along with the leaves of the oak tree. Acorn poisoning, officially called Quercus poisoning, is caused by tannins and causes vomiting, diarrhoea (often bloody) and lethargy. Eating acorns can lead to severe liver and kidney problems if not treated promptly. Acorns also present a choking risk and can cause a blockage in the digestive system.
Always keep a watchful eye when walking your dog in autumn, and avoid areas heavily populated with horse chestnut trees and oak trees where possible.
Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI)
This is a relatively new and uncommon condition whose causes are unknown. It presents itself in dogs roughly 24 – 72 hours after walking in woodland. Symptoms are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, not eating, muscle tremors and, when checked, a higher than average temperature. Sadly it is often rapidly fatal. As always, if your dog displays any of these symptoms, get in touch with the practice for advice.
With darker nights and lower visibility comes a higher risk to our pets from motorists. Cats are especially at risk of injury when out and about. High visibility and reflective collars can be helpful in making sure your kitty can be seen. Try to change your cat’s routine during the darker evenings by encouraging them to stay at home, especially during rush hour when roads are at their busiest.
Whilst uncommon in the UK, dog owners should still make themselves aware of the symptoms of Alabama rot. It is a disease with an unknown case in the UK that affects blood vessels of the skin and kidneys. One of the main symptoms is sores on the skin, particularly below the knee or elbow, which cannot be attributed to injury. Occasionally these sores may be present on the chest or face, with visible swelling and redness. Other symptoms are of a kidney injury, including increased thirst, reduced appetite, vomiting and lethargy. Symptoms are similar to the previously mentioned Seasonal Canine Illness and should be checked out by a vet.
If your cat, dog or rabbit has been diagnosed with arthritis, it’s likely to cause them more discomfort during the colder months. While the reasons for this are unknown, human arthritis sufferers will testify that the change of season can cause intensified pain and stiffness. In pets this may manifest itself in slower movement due to swollen joints and pain. If your pet has had a medical diagnosis of arthritis, ensure you administer their medication at the correct dosage and times advised by your vet. Create an extra warm, cosy and comfortable place for them to rest – putting a memory foam pad in their bed to protect from the hard floor can be helpful.
Senior pets, like senior people, are more prone to arthritis. If your pet is showing first signs of potential arthritis, get in touch with the practice for further advice and to book an appointment.
Being aware of your surroundings, combined with noticing any unusual behaviour displayed by your pets as the seasons change, results in happy pets and happy humans.