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There’s a chill wind blowing

Living

WARM SHELTER VITAL  All dogs – working farm dogs and pets – need access to shelter during the day and a warm, dry place to sleep at night.

The vet's view

Conal Finnerty

Its hard to believe we are in the month of October already, where did September go? It seems like only yesterday we were dragging out the school bags from under the stairs and checking if the zips still worked.
October heralds a change in the seasons, atmospheric temperatures, more persistent wet and cold weather and unpredictable storms like Lorenzo. Given this, we should all be more conscious of our animal friends, some of whom live mostly or continuously outdoors, such as working farm dogs, farm cats and all our wildlife friends, who are facing into another winter season of battling the elements.

Dogs and donkeys
Farm dogs and cats who live in sheds need a bit more tender loving care during the winter, including a dry, sheltered place to sleep, extra bedding for warmth, and extra food, since they burn more calories trying to keep warm this time of year.
Older outdoor dogs are more susceptible to the effects of osteoarthritis in cold weather, so soft comfortable bedding and perhaps a trip to the vet to see if painkillers or joint supplements are needed, especially during the winter months, would be well worth considering.
Donkeys, who don’t have a naturally waterproof coat, are another creature that need an extra bit of attention, especially during the winter months. They need extra feed due to the lack of grass, and also a waterproof shelter from the wind and rain.

Wildlife
Our wildlife friends, such as birds, hedgehogs and other garden visitors, deserve looking after during the winter months. They have given us much pleasure with their presence during the summer in our gardens, and some extra food and clean water are always welcome. (Always be conscious of icy weather when water and food left out for our garden visitors can freeze and be of little use.) Be sure that food left out for these creatures isn’t raided by the dog or cat.

Darkness danger
The shortening days bring with them earlier nights and animals are more susceptible to being hit by cars during the darker hours if they manage to get onto the. They could also cause a traffic accident and injure someone, or worse. Being aware of where your charges are at dusk and into the night is so important this time of year, so locking them in at dusk, with that little extra bit of ‘tea’, is a good habit to get into.

Halloween
October’s end heralds the season of Halloween, and this can be a dangerous and stressful time of year for our pets. Loud and sudden banging, strangers calling to the door, candles, chocolate and firecrackers are all potential stressers and dangers for our pets.
Try as best you can to be conscious of these factors when celebrating Halloween, as pets can get very frightened or sick if exposed to these and other dangers.
When the trick-or-treaters come calling, its probably best if Rover is out of sight, as strangers, especially small giddy ones, can disturb dogs, and the hyperactivity could cause poor Rover to get spooked and inadvertently bite someone, and cause a potentially nasty injury. Also there is less likelihood of Rover grabbing a chocolate treat, which could result in mum or dad having to call the vet at night to deal with chocolate poisoning.
October is a wonderful transitional time of the year, but it should also prompt us to be conscious of our animal friends, both domestic and wild, who also have to face the cold, wind and rain of another Irish winter. That extra dry bed, shelter from the cold, that extra bit of food, especially for our wildlife friends, will make all the difference to them. They deserve it.

Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.