Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Living

FEEL THE COLD Donkeys’ coats are not waterproof, so it is vital they have access to dry shelter.

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

Autumn is well and truly under way and with it comes a change in weather conditions to more colder and wet months ahead. Also Halloween is just around the corner (hard to believe!) so this is a good time to take stock and prepare for the changes afoot, especially for our animal friends, many of whom live outdoors, including the wildlife that visit our gardens and farmyards.
With temperatures falling and more wet days ahead, it is worth thinking about the living conditions of our outdoor friends, thinking about the provision of dry warm shelter, extra food (animals burn more calories over the autumn and winter months), security from predators and thieves as well as security from the road and dangerous vehicles.
Older animals and those with medical conditions need some extra thought in terms of soft bedding, extra food and warmth as well as tending to any medical needs such as osteoarthritis (perhaps painkillers are needed during the cold weather).
Wildlife in particular need a helping hand this time of year, as these creatures have brought us much joy over the spring and summer months, especially this year with so many people spending more time at home or in the garden. Birds, hedgehogs and other animals who visit our gardens/farm yards need some food supplies left out, as well as a reliable water source (make sure that when the frosty days and nights come, it doesn’t freeze over, rendering it useless as a water supply).
Pet donkeys do not have a waterproof coat, so they need secure dry shelter this time of year also, and the provision of extra food in the form of perhaps hay, silage and ration to sustain them through the winter when there is poor nutrition from grass.
With Halloween not far away, now is the time to prepare for the dangers and potential loud noises that Halloween can bring. Not everybody likes Halloween, especially nervous pets who do not like loud noises, strangers calling to the door and other unexpected happenings. There are now a number of calming remedies available for our nervous pets, and now is the time to have these remedies started so that they will have the desired effect around Halloween. These remedies take a bit of time to provide their desired effects and buying them the day before Halloween can and probably will be a waste of money and effort.
Forward planning will give you the best peace of mind in terms of animal welfare around Halloween, so think about how you can shield your pet from load noises, screeching children, lots of front doorbell rings and the dangers of Halloween treats especially chocolate based ones.
It certainly has been a strange and unnerving year so far, but we can help ensure a safe and healthy autumn/winter for our pets and our garden visiting wildlife with some planning and thinking ahead.

> 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.