Ah, autumn--leaves change to eye-popping hues, a cold snap or two passes through, and the smell of pumpkin spice wafts by our noses anytime we walk by a coffee shop.
As we enjoy the picture-perfect scenery and the seasonal delicacies that this time of year has to offer, we dog owners should keep in mind that the change of seasons may mean certain changes in care ought to be offered to our furry friends.
Once you feel those crisp temperatures and see those vibrant-colored leaves start falling, consider these tips to make autumn as enjoyable for your pet as it is for you:
1. Keep Your Canine Comfy in the Cool Temps
As you bust out the flannel and the denim to combat the falling temperatures, make sure that your dog is looking as stylish and feeling as cozy as you are. Suiting your canine up with a canine winter jacket or vest isn’t a bad idea, especially for certain breeds. Dogs bred for the cold, such as Huskies and St. Bernards, may have a better cold weather tolerance than those bred for warm weather, such as Collies or smaller breeds.
Depending on where you live, extreme cold may be a threat to your dog, so be sure to know the common signs and symptoms of hypothermia which include intense shivering, tight muscles, and short breaths. You will want to bring your dog inside if you suspect the first signs of any of these symptoms and work to warm him back up immediately.
While your home is still a warmer spot than the outdoors, you still should ensure that your dog has a warm and cozy spot to sleep each night. Even indoor temperatures can drop quite a bit in the evening, so a soft bed to avoid cold and hard floors is a must. This is especially important for senior dogs with arthritis or joint pain.
2. Sidestep Sinister Sniffing
Autumn gives way to a host of new sights and smells, perhaps making it a dog’s most favorite season. However, some of these exciting new sniffing and tracking opportunities can pose a threat to your canine.
Those delightfully crunchy leaves that dogs love to push through with their snouts can mask more than just hidden scents—they could be shielding dangers such as sharp rocks, thorns, or debris, as well as the ultimate dread - a snake!
Fall is hatching season for snakes, so you will likely see more of them in the fall than you did in the summer. Be sure to know what poisonous snakes are common in your area, and know how to quickly respond in the event that your dog tangles with one of these slithering fiends.
Snakes aren’t the only creatures that are potential hazards to your dog—squirrels and chipmunks may be extremely active as they prepare for winter. While you might have a squirrel-hunter extraordinaire on your hands, you’ll want to remain extra cautious in case your dog’s chasing instincts kick in, especially at night or along busy streets.
3. Stay Hydrated—Even Without the Heat
You may think that since you’ve already beat the heat, with summer long over and those crisp, cool temperatures on the rise, that worries such as dehydration are no longer a major concern.
However, you should still ensure that water is available to your pooch as soon as you’re done with that brisk fall walk, as the cool and dry air can dehydrate both you and your dog relatively quickly.
Providing water to your dog at least every half hour is a good rule of thumb to make sure your dog is adequately hydrated, though you should use your best judgement to decide whether your pet is thirsty.
Just as you might decide to bring bottled water along with you on a long walk, your pet will appreciate if you do the same for him!
4. When in Doubt, Add Some Flash To Be Noticed & Stay Seen!
A mix of clouds, fog, and the shortened daylight hours might make it difficult for passing traffic to admire (and avoid) your adorable pooch on your daily walks. You may even want to revise your walking routine and move it up in the day as the sunlight hours end earlier to ensure the maximum safety for you and your dog.
Take visibility into consideration when selecting a set of booties and a rain coat—many come with bright reflective pieces that shine vividly and let drivers know that your furry friend is at your side.
5. Fight Fleas Through the Fall
Think that cold temperatures mean that those pesky fleas are gone for good? Think again.
Autumn is a crucial time of the year to treat for fleas, and no, cold temperatures do not guarantee that all fleas and ticks are gone until spring! Especially if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, straggling fleas could most certainly latch on to your dog and make your winter miserable—not only for your dog, but for you as well, as they infest every inch of your home with their offspring.
Make sure you maintain regular preventative flea treatment for your dog this fall—for his health and comfort, and for your sanity.
6. Dress Up for Dreary Days
Cooler temperatures often mean a handful of wet and rainy days, depending on where you live. Just as you put on the raincoat and boots to venture out into a storm, your dog (and your carpet) deserve the same protection from the elements. A well-made dog rain coat and even some doggie booties are a must for a dog outdoors in the wet—not to mention your dog in his cute fall getup will be sure to garner tons of likes on social media.
Rain coats for your dog come in a variety of sizes to meet your dog’s maximum level of comfort. For the dog who enjoys the occasional romp through the rain, a short coat that extends from the back of the neck to the base of the tail should suffice. For the dog who can’t tolerate even so much as a droplet on that pristinely groomed coat, full rain coat designs are available, many of which cover the entire chest area and include a pair of short sleeves and a snazzy hood.
Booties are a must for any dog to keep those paws warm and dry while outside in the rain. You’ll be glad your dog’s feet are dry as you can skip the awful foot-wiping process all together, and avoid those adorable yet impossible-to-clean paw prints tracked across your floor.
Autumn—easily the most Instagram-able season—is an exciting and beautiful time of year full of many unique activities for both you and your pet. But dog owners should take a moment to consider how they can best prepare themselves and their dog for the coming season, and consider it a preview of the upcoming winter.
About The Author: Meg Marrs is the Senior Editor at K9 of Mine – a site dedicated to helping owners better care for their canine companions! When she’s not cuddling with pups, you can find her indulging in a good fantasy novel.