‘For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.’ (Edwin Way Teale). For dogs, autumn is a time of windy walks and of running through piles of leaves. To know the best ways to protect your dog from autumn chills will ensure your dog’s health doesn’t suffer over the next few months.
You may think her fur coat and rough padded feet make your dog immune to less-than-perfect weather. But your kindred canine is only protected up to a point. If you don’t take proper measures to help her through the worst of the autumn your dog’s health can take a serious knocking.
Of dogs that moult, to remove the summer fur with a good autumnal brushing session will encourage the winter coat to grow. The same applies to dogs that don’t moult, and for them a late-year haircut will have the same effect. Grooming at this time of the year will prompt a coat of a reasonable length, which will keep them warm. You will also find the fur easier to clean if it gets wet and muddy.
Paxton Veterinary Clinic adds grooming’s other benefits: ‘Brushing your pet reduces your stress levels and lowers your blood pressure. It also gives you a good chance to check their general health by looking at their eyes, nails and teeth. By doing this regularly, you learn what your dog’s body is like and will pick up any issues, such as lumps, cuts and tenderness, quickly.’
Appropriate ‘dress’ outdoors
Some of us may turn our noses up at the thought of kitting out our dog in clothing. But for certain dogs it is worth investing in something like a padded waterproof jacket to keep them warm and dry. Make sure you choose the right size of coat for your dog though; it must fit snuggly around her without being too tight.
Animal welfare charity Blue Cross offers the following advice: ‘Short-coated breeds, like greyhounds, Dobermans and Staffordshire bull terriers struggle the most to cope with the cold so make sure your dog has some winter clothes, like a cosy doggy jumper or coat on when they go outside.’
Keeping her dry
If it is raining heavily you should consider shortening your walk. Some dogs find walking in rain stressful and you may even find your arm being twisted by one that knows better than to be soaked to the skin! Also consider changing your usual route to avoid mud and long grass, and walk along the pavement instead.
A damp dog is not only a smelly one but she is also a cold one. As soon as you get her home dry her with a towel thoroughly. If you intend to drive to your walking spot make sure you pack some towels in order to dry her once she is back inside the car.
Keeping her warm indoors
Keep an eye on your dog at home as well. Autumn is not just something that happens outside. Make sure she is warm and comfortable. If her bed had been placed somewhere cool in the summer it will need to be moved for the autumn. Better yet, let your dog decide where she wants to lie down and allow her the freedom to move around. Add blankets to her bed for added cosiness.