Autumn Hazards

For many of us, the months of September through to November are our favourite time of year. In September the sun still shines, but the air is crisp and fresh. It can feel like a month for renewal – the new school year, a blank page. It really signals the arrival of autumn for us all.

And whilst autumn is a beautiful season, it does mean that we as pet owners may have to manage some hazards for our pets which we don’t see at other times of the year.

Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI):

Seasonal Canine Illness is a disease which affects dogs, most commonly during the autumn. SCI seems to be most common in a few areas – East Anglia, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Warwickshire. While it’s less common round here, it can happen anywhere, so it’s worth being aware of. Dogs with SCI become sick, and have signs such as vomiting, and lethargy, diarrhoea, a sore stomach, a high temperature, and tremors. SCI can be life threatening and affected dogs need to see a vet quickly for treatment; with prompt treatment the majority of dogs do make a full recovery. Dogs often seem to have gone for woodland walks prior to becoming unwell, and often have tiny red mites called harvest mites on their skin, but the cause of SCI has yet to be found, so there is no specific test for it yet.

Fireworks and Loud noises:

The big events of the autumn season are Firework displays celebrating Diwali, Guy Fawkes night, and Halloween.

This year the 5 day festival of Diwali starts on the 25th of October, but some celebrations are likely to start as early as the 13th of October. Guy Fawkes night is the 5th of November, but celebrations often run from the weekend before that date (this year the 2-3rd) or the weekend after (the 9-10th).

Fireworks can be a very frightening experience for many of our pets. It can cause them to panic, try to hide or run away, which are obvious signs of distress. Panicked pets may also show more subtle signs however, such as drooling excessively, trembling or shivering, being clingy, vocalising, showing toileting trouble, or in rabbits in particular, stamping or “freezing” i.e. appearing motionless.

Being aware of the dates we are likely to expect fireworks can help us prepare to minimise any distress they may cause our furry family members. A range of strategies can be used, from managing your pets home environment and routine, to training with noise soundtracks, dietary supplementations, plug in pheromones, and even if necessary medications but almost every single one relies on starting early, weeks before any likely events.

Talk to a member of our team today if you’ve noticed signs of firework phobia in any of your pets, as there are lots of ways we can help both you and them.

Sweets and Chocolates:

Of course, around the same time of year we also celebrate Halloween – and that usually means visitors and sweets!

Many people are aware that chocolate can be toxic to our canine companions, but did you know that a substance called Xylitol – which is used as a sweetener in many food products is also very dangerous and poisonous? It can be found in some peanut butters, in a selection of chewing gums and sugar free sweets. Eating these sweet treats unfortunately can be very dangerous to dogs, so make sure to keep them out of reach!


Other substances can cause poisoning issues through autumn and winter too. As the season changes, so do the leaves and plants around us, with some species being potentially dangerous. Some examples include the autumn crocus, ragwort, oleander, amaryllis and chrysanthemums. Both conkers and acorns can be toxic to dogs, as well as causing physical blockages in the intestines if eaten. Lilies, whilst not a wild blooming autumn flower, can be bought all year round and the pollen is highly toxic to cats.

As the temperature drops we often check on our cars, and top-up the anti-freeze in our engines. Anti-freeze can contain a compound which is very alluring for cats, but also dogs and other animals. Sadly even licking a small amount of spilled or leaked anti-freeze can have rapidly fatal consequences for our pets. Take care when topping up your car for leaks or spillages and ensure these are cleaned up thoroughly.

Temperature and weather hazards:

Many of us will sympathise with older pets, who just like us can suffer from arthritis – which can flare up and worsen with changes in the weather. Take extra care of older pets at this time of year, or talk to one of vets for advice on management strategies in the colder months.

Ice can be a slip hazard for both man and beast, but you may not know that the rock salt used to “grit” paths and roads can be a hazard itself! It can become stuck to furry feet causing them to become sore or chapped, and if licked off can make pets sick. So make sure to check your pets paws after a walk outside.

Rabbits and other outdoor pets will also need special thought and planning to prepare for when cold weather comes. Runs and housing may need extra insulation so they have a draft free, warm dry area. Don’t forget that water bottles can freeze solid too so will need regular checking to ensure our pets stay hydrated!

Whilst we’ve talked about a range of potential hazards for the season in this post, if anything that you have read worries you, or you have questions please do not hesitate to contact our team. We will be happy to talk to you, and do all we can to help you and your pet enjoy the autumn season as safely as possible.

vet nurse consultation cat RS

The Benefits of Nurse Clinics to You and Your Pet

It can be easy to forget when you take an animal to the vets that there is a whole team of people, beyond the veterinary surgeon, working to help you and your animal. One you should be familiar with is a veterinary nurse. However, you may not be familiar with nurse clinics, a separate consultation from a purely veterinary one. These clinics fulfil a very different role to that of veterinary clinics (though they often work in tandem), and can offer a more personal chat about your animal and their welfare. Today we will run through what our nurse clinics do, their roles, and some things to consider before you book a nurse clinic. The next time you have to bring your pet into us, consider whether a nurse clinic would be more helpful to you.

What is a Nurse Clinic?

A nurse clinic is (obviously!) a clinic operated by one of our veterinary nurses. Unlike a vet, who is usually seen when your animal is poorly, our nurse clinics are focussed on preventative care. This means that the nurses will work with you to devise the optimum healthcare, welfare, environment and life for your pet, to prevent the sort of diseases that require help from a veterinary surgeon. This is best started from when you first get your animal, and continued until they are elderly, as care requirements will change as your animal gets older. Common areas focused on are weight gain/loss, helping maintain mobility in elderly patients, advice for first time owners, care of puppies or kittens, behavioural training, keeping up flea and worming, and improving dental hygiene.

As well as looking at your animal’s life when they’re healthy, our nurses can help you adjust to when they aren’t – post-surgery, or during illness, for example, our vets may ask you to change your pet’s feeding, exercise, or environment, as well as to administer drugs. This can be a lot to take in, so visiting a nurse clinic regularly after seeing a vet can help make sure you are doing the best you can to get your pet well again. Regular reminders to administer medication too are always useful, and any questions you may have on welfare can be answered by our nurses.

There are a number of minor procedures our nurses can perform as well, including clipping nails, removing matted fur, giving microchips, emptying anal glands, treating parasites, and so on. If you are only bringing your pet in for one of these, ask if a nurse could do it instead, to save the time of the veterinary surgeons, and to give you a chance to check your animal’s welfare.

The Benefits of Nurse Clinics

Visiting our nurse clinics has a number of benefits to you and your pet, the biggest being that you can have a double check that everything you are doing is suitable for your pet, and if not, what you can do to improve things. Our main goal is always to improve animal welfare, so having a nurse work with you as an individual owner to improve welfare will always yield some results. Even experienced owners may find something they can change, or discover new ideas.

Furthermore, nurse clinics offer a friendlier, more personalised approach to healthcare that you may not get from a vet – of course, we know that our vets are friendly, but they have a lot to squeeze into a short appointment, and you may not get a chance to have a chat about anything beyond the reason you are there. A nurse clinic gives you time to relax, chat and discuss your pet. Hopefully this will make you and your pet more comfortable with visiting the vets in the first place, so you may be happier phoning up the next time you have some concerns.

As mentioned above, nurse clinics are also great for post-operative care. It may be a lot to take in during a veterinary consultation, post-operation, so seeing one of our nurses soon after means you can ask about anything you are unsure of, and discuss a plan to manage healthcare from that point. Nurses can also administer drugs that have been prescribed by a vet, so if you are having trouble getting those tablets down a grumpy cat’s throat, a nurse clinic may help you learn the best technique. During this stressful time, regular care may be forgotten in favour of the postoperative care, so seeing a nurse who can talk about maintaining walks, grooming or anything else may make the job easier.

A Nurse vs a Vet – Some Considerations

While nurse clinics are a great and essential part of our veterinary practice, there are a few considerations you should make before booking one. The main thing to remember is that a nurse is not a vet – as such, they cannot legally diagnose your animal. If your animal is looking unwell, or injured, a nurse can only advise you see a vet, so it is better to see a vet in the first place. Should a nurse notice something during their consult, they will also refer you to the vet. Try not to push for an answer from them, as their role is not to diagnose illness.

A nurse also cannot prescribe drugs, meaning you cannot bring your sick animal into a nurse clinic and expect to receive drugs afterwards – in this case too, a vet must be seen. This extends to regular patients who might want to change a drug or dose. A nurse cannot change a prescription without seeing a vet first. By all means, discuss the drug, what it does, the best way to administer it, and so on. However, just be aware any changes will have to be made by a vet.

Final Thoughts

Every member of staff at our practice works incredibly hard to keep your animal fit and well – part of this means avoiding illness and maintaining high welfare standards. Our veterinary nurses and nurse clinics excel at this, so if you are ever unsure about your pet’s care, want some advice on a new or old animal, or just want a friendly chat about some new welfare ideas, consider calling us up for a nurse clinic. You should never have to feel unsure about looking after your best friends.