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.