Time to Think Fall for Our Pets

Even though the temperature feels more like summer, we will soon feel the chill of fall in the air. For our pets it should serve as a reminder to think about the challenges soon to face these companions.

Most pet owners think of fleas and ticks as a spring and summer issue. In reality, the cooler temperatures of autumn coupled with the occasional rain shower (sadly missing in New England this year) provides the optimal environment for ticks. Though this year’s season has been an easy one from the standpoint of fleas due to the dry summer, it takes only one or two good rains with warm temperature falling to cold, to change all of that. The lesson? Makes sure to keep up the flea and tick preventatives until the cold weather is firmly entrenched.

Skin Conditions and Allergies
Those of us who have had companion pets with skin conditions such as dermatitis and hot spots in the past, know how quickly they can get out of control. In our practice we have often seen dogs and cats that have a mild itch/scratch in the morning create wide open wounds by the time their humans gets home from work. Remember many allergens such as mold, trees (leaves), ornamentals and fleas flourish in the fall environment. Be alert for any mild signs of allergy such as scratching, rubbing the face, licking the paws, runny eyes or sneezing. Catching a flare up early can significantly save your pet from discomfort and you from a major expense.

Shifts in Weather
Though this summer has been warm and dry in New England, we have recently seen some late night and early morning temperatures fall into the forties. Next stop as the season progresses is toward the freezing mark, a temperature hallmark that can be challenging for outdoor pets. Be aware that our four legged friends need time to acclimate to “new” temperature ranges. If you have cats or dogs that spend substantial time outdoors particularly at night, be alert to any significant temperature shifts. Make sure that pets have access to the indoors as well as shelter outdoors in the event that the temperature falls quickly and/or it becomes accompanied by rain. Also ensure that water sources are not subject to freezing.

Rapid Changes in Active Exercise
Just like their humans who become a bit languid and lazy in the heat of the summer, so do pets. We have all seen the “wake up and chase the world” effect that the first chilly air imparts upon our pets. The same goes for dogs and cats that goes for humans. You can’t take it easy all summer and instantaneously return to exuberant exercise without slowly working up to it. Those pick up fall football games that our bodies “recall” the day following an active outing can have the same effect for our companions. Take several days or weeks to work up to the longer runs, hikes and play sessions that have been temporarily suspended in honor of the heat.

There are other issues that need to be monitored as this season descends upon us. Calorie intake, grooming issues, internal parasite considerations are but a few. Be alert to the fact that as the end of summer signifies a shift in our lives, so to does it for our pets. Be sensitive to their needs as they always are to ours.