Autumn, 1818. Australia had been settled for just 30 years. Not many trees drop leaves because Australia has such a variable climate that trees have to be ready all year round should the better climate be winter, hence few deciduous trees. However, settlers are salting meat to store in meat lockers for winter. Farmers are planting winter vegetables, while many other vegetables and fruits are being pickled for the winter lean. And everyone is storing wood.
Improved farming techniques, refrigeration and supermarkets have made all that superfluous. Living in the beautiful Hills region or the rugged but handsome Hawkesbury Valley, the crisp, clean air heralds the icy winter to come, so blankets, doonas and heaters are all made ready for the coming cold. What about our pets? How do we prepare them for winter?
All animals find difficulty living in the cold. Autumn is the time to prepare to protect old joints and help all our pets stave off bitterly cold nights.
For those who wish to keep their pets outside now is the time to build or buy an insulated kennel. A family company in the Hawkesbury (Kumfi Kennels) does make the best insulated kennels at the most reasonable price for dogs and cats. They are assembled with insulated cool room materials to achieve warmth in winter and coolness in summer.
If your pets are inside the house, remember that room temperatures can drop below 10oC, so warm bedding is the order of the day, especially for older pets.
Winter jackets made for dogs and cats can be handy in winter but you need to get your pet used to them now. Start in autumn — have your pet wear it during feed times so they don’t scratch them off and destroy them on winter nights.
Arthritis or slightly damaged joints will be painful during the cold months to come — two things you can add to their food are glucosamine with chondroitin and New Zealand green-lipped mussel tablets. The human forms available through chemists are fine for your cat or dog. These will assist joints, but remember, come the very cold your pet may also need veterinary care with stronger medications to overcome winter pain. The herbal medications can often be used with the stronger medications prescribed by your vet and can decrease the dose needed, but ask your vet during the consultation.
Your pet has just come through a warm period when worm eggs in the soil have mobilised to larvae and are infecting your dog or cat. The start of autumn is a good time to de-worm your pet for intestinal parasites like hookworm, roundworm or tapeworm (the last are picked up from fleas which are more prevalent in summer). Worms are bad at any time, but worse when there is added environmental stress with the change in temperature.

Where’s my pet?
Outside pets will find shelter wherever they can get it so start the habit in autumn of asking, “Where’s my pet?” before you start your car. Dogs will get underneath the car and cats might just hop into the more protected motor section, so don’t start your car until you know the location of your pet.
Brush your pet in autumn, remembering they are ridding themselves of summer hair and growing a coat for winter. Keeping this coat matt free ensures good coat growth with better insulation.
Oh, and if you do have a native deciduous tree that is now dropping leaves, be careful. The most common native deciduous tree is the white cedar and these can be toxic to our pets!

Q: We are getting a new pup which we would like to keep indoors but remember the horror we had last time with our pet urinating in the house. How do I house train my new pup?
Patience, tolerance, persistence and consistency are the key words in toilet training.
Firstly, remember your pup will want to toilet shortly after feeding or having a drink (they have small bladder capacity when young, just like a human baby) or after a sleep. At these times, take them to the area you want them to toilet in and gently repeat the command you wish to use. I say “Be quick”, and when the dog is going to the toilet I repeat, “Good dog, be quick”.
I also keep gently repeating “good dog” while they are eating, gently patting them as I say it. At first, your dog hears, “Blah, blah, blah!” but keep doing it while they go to the toilet and the words, “Be quick” become the trigger for them to go to the toilet.
Police dogs are trained this way — after all, you don’t want a police dog relieving itself during a building search. If your dog does mess inside, grumble “Who made this mess?” then take it straight outside to where you want them to toilet and simply pat them while on the grass, gently saying, “Good dog”. Remember, every training exercise must end in a positive fashion.
Do not clean with ammonia products or vinegar — these smell like another dog’s urine so your pet will be keen to compete and urinate wherever the smell can be found. Use eucalyptus, lavender or citronella based cleaners instead, which are not pleasant to your dog.

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