Autumnal tips for dog owners

Autumn dog walking tipsThere’s lots to love about autumn as a dog owner. The beautiful skies, changing colours in the trees and mountains of fallen leaves to drag our feet through make it a magical time of year to take our dog for a walk. However, while the later months of the year can be a great time for exploring, there are some potential dangers that you need to be aware of.

Fallen leaves
While it’s great fun for both you and your dog to jump through towering piles of leaves, you do need to be careful. They can shelter not only hazardous waste and litter like cans, needles and glass, but also wildlife such as hedgehogs and field mice.

Cold winds and temperatures
Although autumn can bring some last lingering sunshine, it can also bring brisk winds and cooler temperatures. If your dog struggles in the cold because of its size, health or because it has short fur then you should consider wrapping them up in cozy jacket or vest.

Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI)
At this time of year, you will likely see lots in the news about the dangers of dog walks in certain parks and public spaces. This is due to Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI). SCI is still a bit of a mystery to researchers but is known to cause vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy and affect dogs between the months of August and November. Vets have noticed an increase in these symptoms after dogs have walked in woodland areas, with symptoms generally occurring 1-3 days after visits.

Blue-Green Algae
Does your dog love water? Is it likely to go running into a water source for a swim? If so then you should be on the look-out for blue-green algae. This is a toxic form of algae that floats on water during the early autumn and can be toxic to dogs if they drink it.

Another danger of walks are Harvest Mites. They are tiny orange specks that are difficult to spot but may nestle in between your dogs’ toes and cause very painful itching. If you notice your dog is chewing at their paws, then you should contact your vet for treatment.

Other poisonous wildlife
The cold moist climate of autumn means that there is plenty of chance for mushrooms, berries and other potentially poisonous vegetation to spring up and your dog may well take an interest such as acorns, Yew tree leaves, chestnuts and Autumn crocuses. If you notice that your dog has eaten something you’re unsure of then you should take a photo of it and phone your vet for immediate advice.

Whilst you should be on your guard when walking your dog in Autumn, every month has dangers and you shouldn’t let it put you off taking your dog for a walk. Afterall, autumn brings with it a unique natural beauty that both you and your dog will enjoy.

For more tips on dog care, training, behaviour therapy and more please visit our articles page which is full of free advice.

About the author

Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists