The sun is getting lower in the sky, and when that happens, dogs are known to roam around the room, trying to catch a snooze in the last rays of afternoon sunlight. But that's not the only change you will see in your pets as the season turns. You'll also need to make some changes for the comfort of your pet for the upcoming cooler weather.
1. Make sure you keep your pet groomed.
A thick coat does help your pet stay warm in the winter, but remember not to let it get matted, as this could invite bacteria and skin infections. You may have to brush them more often if you let their hair grow out a bit, but it will be worth it when they're all snuggly, clean and warm.
2. Keep your pet out of the garden—and be careful in the woods.
Certain fall plants, such as clematis, autumn crocus and chrysanthemum can be deadly to your pets if eaten. Certain mushrooms can also be deadly, including toadstools like fly agaric, death cap mushrooms and autumn galerina. Because dogs love exploring interesting smells—and tasting them if they get the chance—it's important to watch your pet in your yard and on walks to be sure he doesn't chomp down on anything suspicious.
3. Watch out for snakes.
Just because it's cooler out doesn't mean the snakes have left your yard. Snakes do not move around much in the winter, but will remain quite active as long as the temperature is around 60 degrees or above. Rattlesnakes, which can be deadly to small pets and even make large dogs very sick, are even active on warm winter days.
4. Change feeding and walk times.
Summer schedules for dogs can be very different than the fall and winter schedule. In the summer, you may walk earlier to avoid the heat; in the fall and winter, a later morning walk and an earlier evening walk will be necessary to beat the darkness. Dogs are very sensitive to schedule changes, so try moving to your new schedule in 15-minute intervals.
5. Keep a light on.
During the later months of the year, sometimes you'll leave for work in the dark and come home to a dark house, too. If you have timers on your lights, adjust them so your pets don't end up in the dark, or leave a light on for them during the day.
6. Consider cozy new beds.
Check out your beds and blankets for your dogs to ensure they will be warm throughout the winter. If they need to be replaced, shop early for the best selection. If you have a senior dog or cat, they may especially love a heated or more comfortable bed.
7. Upgrade their wardrobe.
Some people dress up their dogs for fun, but others do it as a practical necessity. Shorthaired dogs sometimes love—and need—sweaters and coats. If this is your dog, your best shopping selection will be early in the season.
8. Plan for back to school.
Things change during the school year: The kids are on a new schedule, and family activities may change. Help your pets adjust with the following tips:
Make sure everyone is up early enough to give the pets some attention before leaving for school and work. This includes plenty of time for feeding, walking and a little play time.
Rotate toys so your pet has something new to play with every week or so. Extra entertainment options include interactive puzzle toys.
Consider doggy daycare. If your dog is properly socialized, it might appreciate getting out of the house to play with friends one or two days a week.
Make time after school and work. You and the kids have been around people all day, but you are your pet's whole world. Carve out special time just for the pets every evening.
Plan weekend activities. As much as possible, include your dog in your weekend hikes and fall foliage trips. They will enjoy the ride and scenery as well.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Nancy Buley, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Wholesale Tree Growers
Photographs courtesy of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.
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