by Tara Wilson
K-9 Action Dog Training
The weather has finally cooled down and fall is in full swing. I, for one, have been more than ready for the change of season. Fall is such a fun, invigorating time of the year for both people and pets. Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner, and the air is so crisp. There are plenty of fun fall activities for pets, as well as some safety concerns. I would like to pass a few of these on to you to help ensure a fun and safe experience for your pet.
1. With the cooling of the weather, many people want to get out and exercise. It is natural to want to take your dog along with you. Most dogs enjoy a long walk or jog, but it is important to increase the distance gradually. Many dogs have been relatively inactive during the summer, and may not be “in shape” anymore. Start with short walks and watch your dog for signs of fatigue, soreness, or injury. If you are concerned about any soreness or limping, be sure to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Also, be sure to offer water at regular intervals. Even though the weather is cooler, your dog will still require plenty of water while exercising. Check the pads of your dogs feet periodically, too. Inspect them for painful abrasions, wear, or punctures. It may take some time for your dog’s feet to toughen up again if he has been lounging indoors for months.
2. In this area we are fortunate enough to have access to the Kings River. Many dogs enjoy playing in the water, and fall can be a perfect time to take advantage of the river. The water is lower and the current is slower, allowing splashing and playing in the water a much safer experience. However, it is important to watch for jagged rocks lurking just under the surface as well as debris such as glass bottles and aluminum cans. These can cut the dog’s feet and cause significant injury. Carefully inspect the area before letting your dog play. Try to monitor your dog closely to prevent him from drinking from the river or eating spoiled food that may be left over in the area. Prevention is much easier than treatment when it comes to water and food caused illnesses.
3. Storms are another feature of fall that many of us look forward to and enjoy. I love to take my dogs out for a walk in the rain. However, I am careful to avoid walking when thunder and lightning are nearby as I do not want myself or my dogs inadvertently struck by lightning. I am fortunate that my dogs are not afraid of thunder, but many dogs are. If you have a dog that is, keep him inside during storms. Some people find that putting the dog in a room with low lighting and a radio playing softly will help alleviate the fear. Try to avoid “comforting” him as it can actually reinforce his fear and make it worse. If his anxiety gets unmanageable, talk to your veterinarian about medicine that can help calm your dog.
4. Halloween is a much anticipated day for most children and many adults, too! Pets can also take part in the fun. However, there are a few safety issues to keep in mind. Some pets can be very frightened at the sight of ghosts, goblins, and monsters running around. They do not understand the concept of costumes. Some dogs can react aggressively, and try to protect you. Others may be very scared and try to run away. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash while around costumed children in order to prevent bites, growling, or your dog fleeing and getting lost.
If you plan to dress your dog or cat up for Halloween, be sure to do some trial runs before Halloween. Choose a costume that allows the animal to have free range of movement and no restrictions on their vision. Use your pet’s favorite food treat to help him get used to the idea of wearing a costume. Feed small bits of the food while gradually adding the pieces of the costume. Praise your pet and tell him how cute he looks while feeding him the treats. In no time your pet will look forward to the treats and the costume!
Be sure to keep candy out of the reach of your pets. Most people know that chocolate is deadly for pets, but other candy can also pose a hazard. The wrappers on candy can get stuck in the digestive tracts of pets, and the large amounts of sugar can also make them sick. Stick to giving your pet treats made especially for them. Some pet stores even sell Halloween themed treats for dogs and cats.
I hope that this has given you some new ideas to think about, and will enable you to make sure your pet has a safe as well as enjoyable fall. Enjoy this beautiful weather!