Preparing Your Dog for Fall

fall autumn cocker spaniel puppy dog

It’s fall! Colder weather is slowly creeping up on us. Leaves will be changing color and then dropping before we know it. That’s the signal that it’s time to start getting our homes, gardens, and vehicles ready for winter. However, those aren’t the only things that need some attention before it gets chilly. We also need to prepare our pets for the change in seasons.

Question: How are dog hair and autumn leaves alike?

Answer: They’re both shed in the fall!

Most dogs shed heavily in spring to get rid of their heavy winter coat but they also shed in the fall. They’re losing their lighter, thinner summer coat in order to grow a nice warm winter coat. You can help out by brushing your dog thoroughly. It may take several weekly, or even daily, sessions before she stops shedding.

Regular brushing will help prevent uncomfortable matting and may help prevent ‘hot spots‘. It also gives you a chance to inspect your pet for lumps, ticks, and other health problems. Besides, your dog will love the attention! If you have a terrier or other ‘non-shedding’ breed, it’s a good idea to take her to a professional groomer to have the dead hair plucked out of her coat.

Give your dog a spa day

Late summer or early fall is also a good time to give her a bath while it’s still warm outside. Make sure that you’ve rinsed her thoroughly and she’s completely dry after her bath so she doesn’t develop a skin irritation.

Don’t forget to treat her to a pedicure, too! Trim her nails – and don’t forget her dewclaws. Apply a soothing dog-safe balm if her pads are dry. Applying it regularly will help keep her pads in good shape.

If you use a topical flea or tick product, check the package to see if you need to reapply it after a bath. The time you spend bathing and brushing your dog will pay off in a sweeter smelling pet and it will save you time when it comes to sweeping or vacuuming. You won’t be constantly chasing all of that shed fur!

While you’re at it, check your dog’s ears for signs of pain, lumps, grass seeds or awns, redness, excess wax, moistness, or an unpleasant smell. Get hold of your vet if you notice any of these signs of an ear problem.

Does your dog have a fall wardrobe?

Fall is a tough season for animals because of its changeable weather. That’s why your dog needs you to provide her with a warm, dry place to sleep and clothes to keep her from getting chilled. Does she have a jacket or coat for those cold weather walks? If she already has one, is it in good shape and does it still fit her properly?

Small dogs, senior pets, and dogs with very thin coats may also need a sweater to wear around the house, particularly if you keep your home on the cooler side. The same is true for naturally thin dogs like whippets or Italian greyhounds. They don’t have enough fat reserves to keep themselves warm.

Having at least a couple of sweaters will let her stay warm while you’re doing her laundry. While you’re at it, you might as well throw her coat, bed cover, and washable toys in with her sweaters. Frequent laundering will keep her things healthier for her. Plus, you’ll enjoy a house that smells less like a kennel while it’s closed up for the winter!

Add a little paw protection

She may also need dog boots to protect her paws from snow and ice. It can get stuck between her toes and cause frostbite. Another major benefit of boots is to shield your pup’s feet from toxic and corrosive salt and ice melt chemicals. Those chemicals are the reason you should rinse or wipe your dog’s paws after a walk. Ingesting them while licking her feet dry can poison your pooch!

If your dog refuses to wear boots, protect her paws with paw wax. It provides many of the same benefits as boots. It may be difficult to apply paw wax on a dog with sensitive or ticklish feet. Try this clever trick for getting your pet used to its application.

Is it time for a diet change?

Do you crave light, refreshing salads in summer but hot, rich casseroles or stews in fall or winter? That’s not surprising since food is the fuel that generates body heat. If your active dog spends a lot of time outdoors, she may need to eat more just to stay warm. Always check with your vet for feeding recommendations because every pet has different ‘fuel’ needs. It’s possible that your dog’s ‘thrifty gene‘ means she’ll actually need less food as the weather cools down!

Even when the weather is cooler, your pet still needs adequate clean water. If your dog spends much of her time outside, check her water bowl in the morning and throughout the day. It may freeze overnight or even during a particularly cold day. Be sure to remove any floating ice chunks that could cut her mouth or cause her to choke when she gets a drink.

Get out & exercise

Sometimes the summer heat and humidity cause your dog to miss out on her daily walks or those rousing games of fetch. If so, fall’s cooler weather is the perfect chance to ease back into daily exercise. Her increased need for food to keep her warm is likely to put on pounds unless you make sure she gets adequate exercise.

Giving your dog enough exercise will keep her calmer, less anxious, and less likely to develop unwanted behaviors out of sheer boredom. She also won’t become a poster pet for National Pet Obesity Awareness Day this October!

Summers are always busy and your dog’s training might have fallen by the wayside. Brisk fall walks are the perfect opportunity to do some brush-up obedience work. Don’t just practice the ‘heel’ command, either. Put her through all her paces – she’ll enjoy the mental stimulation and you’ll enjoy a well-behaved companion.

Finally, update her tags when you update your clocks

It’s important to make sure your pet’s tags and microchip information are up-to-date. If you make it a habit to do it when the clocks change, just like changing your smoke detector batteries, you’ll know that your pet’s information is correct. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes twice a year to ensure her safety. While you’re at it, you may want to register her with Fido Finder’s database – just in case she goes for a walk without you!

Hopefully, this information will help you get your dog prepared for fall. If you have health concerns or need more information about helping your pet weather seasonal changes, contact us. Our dedicated staff cares deeply about our patients and their humans.

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Cindy Stone
Cindy Stone
posted 3 weeks ago

Clean, friendly and I was immediately welcomed. All interactions with "Pumpkin" were sincere and loving . All seem to enjoy their jobs. Sensitive to my pet's needs. First time boarding at 5 years old. Did well.

Tiffany A Burger
Tiffany A Burger
posted 2 weeks ago

I cant say enough praise over this practice. Dr. Jacob and ALL the staff demonstrate true compassion towards animals as well to those who own them. I have witnessed time and time again how each staff member blesses every person and/or fur baby who enters their doors. I have experienced the power of knowledge, expertise and (most importantly) kindness from Dr. Jacob as he helped walk me through an emotional time when Nikita was really sick. They love on my girl like she was their own- every encounter. I keep coming back and referring others to see themselves why I just love this place.

Charlene Robinette
Charlene Robinette
posted 3 months ago

We were extremely happy with our experience at Tipp City Veterinary Hospital. They were able to get us in on a Sunday, when our dog was very sick and needed to be seen that day. The staff was friendly, courteous and helpful. Dr. Ken was wonderful! He was gentle, but thorough when he examined our dog. He diagnosed the problem and patiently answered all our questions. His treatment was effective and our dog was feeling much better within 24 hours. We would definitely recommend Tipp City Veterinary Hospital.

amy allen
amy allen
posted 1 week ago

I have been taking my pitbull to Tipp veterinary hospital for 7 years and without fail every time we have walked in, we have been treated like family and my dog has been treated like royalty! Several times my dog has turned up missing and has been tracked back to the Tipp Veterinarian Hospital and they have kept her until I could be reached. They've never charged me for this and they've never scolded me. The facility is always very clean with no smell and Everyone is always extremely professional. With that being said they will take their professional caps off to love on my dog and be silly and make her feel like she's the only dog in the world! When you watch any of the doctors and all of the staff you know they are doing what they love and what they've been called to do. They've always taken such good care of my dog's health. And one thing that I really like is I don't feel like they judge and I don't feel like they push anything on me that I don't need or want.

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