December has arrived – Oh no it hasn’t, Oh yes it has, - and we are now hurtling towards Christmas at great speed. With the new month comes a change of season and winter problems in our pets.
So far, Autumn has been mild and wet and without the searing heat of summer or the freezing temperatures of winter, infections are rife. Most commonly we see dogs with upset tummies. The initial bout of sickness and diarrhoea seems to clear only for it to return 24 hours later. Treat your dog as you would yourself with plenty of fluids and a light diet. Give him small meals and make them wet rather than just dry biscuits to get the fluids in. If the problem continues then veterinary intervention is required and we will usually prescribe anti-diarrhoeals and probiotics to get him back to normal.
Itchiness also starts in animals at this time of year. Most likely the heating has been put on and the increased temperature and dry air indoors makes your dog’s skin itchier than normal. They also seem to shed bucket loads of fur and many owners worry that this is abnormal However, although it may clog up your vacuum cleaner twice a day, unless your dog is balding or has red and sore skin, this I perfectly normal How each breed sheds is different. German Shepherd dogs give off great tufts of sheep’s wool whereas Labradors just leave a layer of hair wherever they sit.
If your dog has allergies however, you may find they become worse in winter. Although the outdoor allergens of tree pollen and grass pollens have subsided, the indoor allergens, usually house dust mites and storage mites, are still around and as your dog is spending more time indoors , it is coming into contact with these more often.
Remember, too, that if you have flea eggs in your house these will start to hatch with the warmth of the central heating, and you can have a new flea infestation. It is important to keep up with your flea and worm control all year round, not just from Spring to Autumn.
Although the temperatures are mild, the gritting lorries have been out a couple of times so far. The grit and salts used to keep our roads clear can irritate the paws of dogs, so when you come back from walks remember to rinse down their feet to wash it off, especially if the weather gets slushier.
So, enjoy the festive season and try not to panic, like me, if your mind still thinks it can only be February and you haven’t bought a single Christmas present yet.