DOG owners are being urged to watch out for hedgehogs and their young as this is the peak time of year for injuries.
With the nights drawing in, baby hedgehogs — known as hoglets or piglets — wander around earlier, meaning more get attacked and hit by traffic.
Numbers are in steep decline, from 30million in the Fifties to just one million today. So we must all do our bit to assist them, while also keeping our dogs safe.
Paws & Claws vet Sean McCormack says: “There are a lot of hedgehogs around at this time of year, as many adults produce a second litter in the autumn. They go out at night to search for food to build up their fat reserves for the winter.
“Some breeds of dogs, particularly terriers, can attack and this can be fatal for the hedgehog — and very painful for the dog.
“Owners should keep dogs on leads during evening walks and supervise their outdoor toilet breaks. If they do pick up a hedgehog, separate them as quickly as possible.”
As well as their spikes causing injuries to dogs’ muzzles and gums, hedgehogs can carry ticks and fleas that can be passed on to canines.
They also carry ringworm and if a dog’s mouth is cut from attacking a hedgehog, that can be an entry point for the disease. Signs to look out for are dry and flaky skin and hair loss.
If your dog is injured by a hedgehog, bathe its mouth in water that has been boiled and left to cool and add some sea salt, which has antiseptic properties. If you are still concerned afterwards, visit the vet.
If the hedgehog is hurt, gently put them in a safe place, such as a cardboard box, and contact your vet.
Many vets will carry out first aid before releasing the patched-up creatures back into the wild.
Ailie Hill runs Pricklebums Hedgehog Rescue, a charity in Shropshire with a hedgehog “hospital”.
She has helped save the lives of more than 100 animals, many of them from dog bites.
Ailie says: “The most common injuries are from car accidents, garden strimmers and being bitten by dogs.
“Owners should put their dogs on leads late at night, as this is the most likely time they will pick up hedgehogs. The wounds can become infected and this can be agonising.”
Star of the week
MEET Angus the guinea pig who has a bundle of tricks up his furry sleeve including “popcorns” – a somersault.
Angus squeaks for his food, follows commands and loves pushing round a toy shopping trolley packed with veggies.
He lives with Emma Bradley, 23, who works in retail, has nearly 1,000 followers on Instagram and is so good at posing he is a model for animal agency, Urban Paws.
Emma, from Gainsborough, Lincs, said: “Angus makes us laugh and is such a little character. He loves the camera. He has a lot of animal friends from dogs to tortoises and we love sharing his adventures and showing that guinea pigs can be just as much fun as larger pets.”
Follow Angus @angus.the.piggie on Instagram
Sean McCormack, head vet at the tailored food firm tails.com
MICHELLE GOODMAN, 34, of Bristol needs advice concerning four-year-old Yorkshire terrier Belle.
Q) My adorable Yorkie hates me leaving for work in the morning and howls. I try to distract her with treats but I know that will impact on her weight. I also try to distract her with toys but nothing seems to do the trick. Can you suggest anything else that will help her feel less anxious and remind her that I’ll be back in the evening?
A) Sounds like classical separation anxiety, and there’s no quick or easy fix I’m afraid.
You need to start building up her independence slowly, having other people spend time with her, take her for walks and build relationships with her. Set up false departures where you leave the house repeatedly for only a few minutes at first, gradually increasing the time you are away.
Don’t reward her attention-seeking actions when you return by making lots of fuss, that only rewards her anxious behaviour. I’d recommend taking your pet to see a dog behaviourist if things aren’t getting any better.
EMMA TULLY, 34, who lives in Chesterfield, has just inherited a six-month-old Persian kitten.
Q) I would love to know what specific jabs I need to get for my cat to be safe.
A) Congratulations on becoming a cat owner! It’s a great idea to bring a new kitten or puppy to your local vet for a full health check and then they can run you through the timelines they recommend for starting vaccinations, neutering and so on.
In general, we vaccinate cats against several diseases – some, like cat flu, can be really harmful in flat-faced breeds like Persians.
As for neutering, it’s super- important not to let kittens out before they are spayed in case of accidental pregnancy. Six months is an ideal time to consider having her spayed.
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