How to keep your pets happy, healthy and safe during Halloween, Bonfire Night and Autumn

Watch our video with Steve Backshall and vet Paul Manktelow to get clued up

With autumn here and the summer temperatures long gone, it’s a great time to get outside with your dog for some long and enjoyable walks through the falling leaves, ahead of winter.

But while many pet owners love this time of year, there are also a few challenges in autumn when it comes to making sure your pets are happy, healthy and safe.

Even though many of us love getting outside as the weather changes, the colder days and longer nights can mean our pets are inside more during the autumn months, getting less exercise than they did in summer, and therefore their diets may need to change to reflect their activity levels.

Pet owners also need to consider two of the biggest events in autumn – Halloween and Bonfire Night.

Many animals find fireworks very unsettling and even frightening, while Halloween can present all sorts of challenges; from dogs getting into all the sweets and chocolate lying around the house, to the constant door knocking and bell ringing of trick or treaters, which can cause over-excitement in even the most placid dogs.

For advice on how to keep your pets happy in autumn, watch our video where Steve Backshall and vet Paul Manktelow give you plenty of tips.

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Experts warn pet owners about risk of flea infestations as central heating is turned on.

As the central heating dial is turned up across the UK, experts are warning pet owners about the increased risk of fleas in warm households.

New research, carried out by Bayer Animal Health for its ‘Home Invaders’ campaign, has shown that a third of pet owners are unaware that switching on the heating in the autumn and winter months can lead to an increase in flea infestations.

Parasitologist Ian Wright from the European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) UK and Ireland says: “As long as the humidity remains over 75 per cent and temperatures don’t exceed 30°C then for fleas, the warmer the better. Fleas can complete their life cycle in less than 3 weeks at 29 °C so the warmer the house is, the faster they will reproduce up to that point. It should also be said, that fleas can still breed at 17 °C, just at a slower rate.”

According to the research, more than a third of pet owners turn up their heating in the autumn and winter months to between 21°C and 25°C, providing an optimum temperature for fleas to breed in. The study also revealed that one in 10 pet owners have noticed fleas on their pet and in the house during autumn and winter months, indicating they are not seeking preventative treatment at this key time of year.

It is estimated that 95 per cent of the flea population in a home can be found within carpets and soft furnishings, which is perhaps no surprise when almost half of owners admit sharing a bed with their pet and three quarters allow their cats to sleep on their sofa.

Furthermore, 27 per cent of pet owners seek parasite treatment advice online before going to their vet and 10 per cent only ever treat their pets when they see fleas. Worryingly, half of pet owners were completely unaware their pet had fleas until they were shown by a vet. Pet owners are reminded that while the web is a useful resource for gaining background information it should in no circumstances replace the role of a vet.

Paul Manktelow, Veterinary Surgeon, founder of Vital Pet Health and co-presenter of the Home Invaders documentary, says:  “There is a high probability your dog or cat will have had fleas or worms at some point in their life but depending on the degree of the infestation you may not have realised how many live hidden away in your home. It is important to speak to your vet about receiving the right preventative treatment to stop these infestations.”

Richard Wall, Professor of Zoology at Bristol University, says: “Only 1-5 per cent of the flea population is actually represented by the adults on the pet and is really just the tip of the iceberg. The remaining 95 per cent is hidden in the environment. They may be found in a wide variety of locations within the domestic environment, including wooden flooring and car upholstery.”

‘Home Invaders’ is a national campaign which is shining a light on the fleas and intestinal worms that live on our pets and in our homes, and is part of Bayer Animal Health’s wider ‘It’s a Jungle Out There’ parasite protection initiative. You can help spread the word and find out if your pet and family could be at risk, by following the conversation at www.facebook.com/jungleforpets or by following ‘JungleForPets’ on Twitter. You can also watch the Home Invaders documentary at www.itsajungle.co.uk.