Seasonal changes and our animals

Nurturing

ESSENTIAL WARMTH During these colder months, all dogs kept outside the home must be given warm, dry housing with extra bedding

The vets view

Conal Finnerty

Autumn is well and truly upon us at this stage and the arrival of October brings with it, shortening days and longer colder nights as well as more persistent spells of inclement weather.
Rain, cold winds and frost are a feature of this season’s weather, and this directly and indirectly affects our animals – both domestic and wild.

Baby, it’s cold outside…
While lots of your pets are indoor habitants some of our domestic pets are not, living and working outdoor year round.
Farm dogs and cats commonly live outdoors all year round, as do some donkeys, who do not have a waterproof coat to protect them from cold driving wind and rain. We need to think about these outdoor dwellers at this time of year and ensure they have adequate warm, dry shelter, as well as adequate (perhaps increased) food provisions to help fuel their need for extra heat to keep themselves warm.
Farm cats are quite ingenious at finding that lovely warm stack of hay bales or other such cosy area to set up home for the winter months. However, farm dogs commonly are not so inventive, and so should be provided with extra bedding covered by well-sheltered, warm housing for the winter months. Donkeys too need extra rations as their grass supply dwindles, as well as access to dry, well-insulated housing.
We also need to think about our wildlife friends, who have provided us with such happiness and pleasure over the past spring and summer. They too need a bit of help to weather this time of year. Perhaps extra food left out for birds and other garden visitors, such as hedgehogs, should be considered. Building small shelters, such as hedgehog boxes, and putting in extra birds nesting boxes and so on, is a great idea – just make sure they are predator proof and cannot be disturbed by ne’er-do-wells!

Fright nights
The season of Halloween is not far away (and did someone mention Christmas?!), so it is worth preparing in advance for our pets’ safety and wellbeing.
It can be a stressful time of year for our dogs and cats, with loud noises, bonfires, screaming children, dangerous fireworks, strangers visiting our homes, tanglesome fairy lights, candles and potentially edible dangers, such as chocolate.
There are lots of relatively new calming agents now on the market for our more nervous pets, which can help calm their nerves at this time of year, and now is the time to look into getting such helpful aids – not the very night they are needed.
October brings its challenges, not just for people but for your animal friends also, and now is the time in early October to start to think about and plan for changing weather patterns and wintry weather. Our outdoor friends in particular do not demand an awful lot from us, but surely they deserve that small bit extra thought this cold, wet and windy time of year.
Happy Christmas… er, I mean Halloween!

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.