Protect your pets this autumn

With autumn on the way, the cooler weather can bring some seasonal issues for our cats and dogs. Discover how to avoid these and deal with any problems that do come up with these tops tips.

Harvest Mites

Harvest mites are tiny orangey-brown insects that mainly affect cats, although dogs and even humans can get them too. Many animals are allergic to the fluid that the mite injects, resulting in the reddening and crusting of the skin. Because the bites are itchy, animals will often scratch at them, worsening the inflammation and potentially introducing infection.

Keep an eye out for mites just in front of the ears, at the base of the ear flap and between the toes. If your cat or dog is affected by harvest mites, they may need treatment to settle the inflammation, so a quick trip to the vets is a good idea.

Mites are at their most active during the late morning and afternoon throughout August to early October. They live in long grass and plants so keeping grass short and your garden weed-free can help reduce the chance of your cat or dog picking them up. Of course, vegetation outside of your home is harder to control so if your pet is very sensitive you may need to keep them indoors during the worst months. If problems keep occurring you can also ask your vet to prescribe a treatment to prevent infestation.

Ticks

Ticks are very common in the early autumn, particularly in moorland or wooded areas and both dogs and cats can pick them up. They are greyish brown and vary in size from not much bigger than a pinhead up to the size of a baked bean!

Ticks can be tricky to remove so if you live in an area where they’re found, it’s a good idea to use a ‘spot-on’ treatment regularly.

If your dog or cat does pick up a tick, the best way to remove them is by using a tick hook, or by grasping the base of the tick very close to the skin and pulling upwards. You need to be very careful not to squash the tick while you’re doing this, or leave any part of the tick behind as this can cause a reaction or infection. If you’re in any doubt, a vet nurse can do this for you, or if you have John Lewis Pet Insurance, try calling our vetfone helpline for instant advice.

Ticks can carry Lyme disease, which can cause recurrent lameness of the limbs due to inflammation of the joints. Some dogs may develop acute lameness, which can recur days or even weeks later in the same or a different leg. Look out for swollen and warm joints, which are painful when you feel the area – a trip to the vets for some antibiotics is advisable.

Some dogs may also develop kidney problems if Lyme disease is left untreated. Your dog may start vomiting, experience diarrhoea, a loss of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, fluid up in the abdomen and tissues, especially the legs and under the skin.

Other symptoms associated with Lymes disease include:

Fireworks

If you know that your pet is scared of fireworks, now’s the time to think about preparing for bonfire night.

It’s important to ensure your pet has a safe place that they can go to if they feel scared. Place some blankets for them to burrow into, perhaps with an article of your clothing there so that they can detect your scent, which may help to comfort them.

For cats, a covered bed or cardboard box may be a good idea, although they might prefer to just hide under a bed!

Pheromone diffusers (Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs) can be useful during the firework season. These emit a copy of a naturally-occurring pheromone, which helps to calm the pet during stressful periods. Two weeks before bonfire night, switch the diffuser on for 24 hours a day and keep it on for two weeks after as well. There are also other products in the range, including collars and sprays.

You can also buy non-prescription supplements like Zylkene and KalmAid that can help with stress. Other things you can try are the Sounds Scary CD for noise phobia (you would need to use this well in advance) or a dog anxiety wrap such as a Thundershirt.

When you’re getting ready for bonfire night, don’t forget to check under your bonfire before you light it to make sure there are no wild animals, such as hedgehogs hiding there.

How can John Lewis Pet Insurance help?

As winter approaches, if your pet does become ill the last thing you want to worry about is a costly vet’s bill. So it’s reassuring to know that John Lewis Pet Insuranceoffers cover up to to £12,000 per year.