Cooler weather is setting in, and the leaves are changing colors. Autumn is a favorite time of year for many of us, but it can be a dangerous season for pets, with many potential health hazards.

Our lives are often so hectic that we yearn for an extra hour in the day, so losing an hour of daylight when Daylight Savings Time kicks in means that many of our daily activities take place when visibility is poor. We end up walking or exercising our canine companions in the darkness of early morning or evening. Reduced light makes it more challenging for drivers to see either humans or canines, resulting in injuries being suffered after being hit by a car during daybreak or twilight hours. Be sure your dogs wear up-to-date tags and reflective wear is helpful for both you and your dog. Maintain close observation and control with a short leash attached to his chest harness. I never recommend extendable leashes, but they are especially dangerous in low light situations.

Dogs love to play in piles of leaves, but leaf piles quickly accumulate moisture, which promotes mold and bacterial growth. If your dog ingests these microorganisms, the result can be digestive tract upset, and burning leaves can irritate your pet’s eye, nose, throat, and skin, so the best practice is to keep your pets restricted from your yard work.

Mushrooms abound all over this time of year, and fortunately most mushrooms are non-toxic. However, differentiating a toxic from a non-toxic mushroom is difficult for most of us, so it is best to prevent consumption of any mushroom. Poisonous mushrooms contain dangerous toxins, and can cause severe liver toxicity if ingested.

Cooler temperatures motivate rodents to search for shelter from the cold, and rodenticides are often used to deter vermin infestations, but these poisons also cause life-threatening toxicity to dogs. The active ingredient in D-Con and most common rodent poisons is Brodifacoum, and is an anti-coagulant that inhibits Vitamin K’s normal function in blood clotting, so within several days, blood fails to properly clot. Other mice and rat poisons contain Vitamin D3, which causes kidney and liver failure, failure, muscle weakness, seizures and death. If you use these products, put them in places that are totally inaccessible to your pets, and where you are sure that mice and rats cannot transport chucks of the poison to areas your pets can reach.

There are many fall blooming plants, such as the Chrysanthemums, Saffron, and Clematis that can trigger toxicity if ingested. Ingestion of these plants can result in stumbling, drooling, skin inflammation, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you are not sure what fall plants are the most poisonous, go to,

Many people begin preparing their vehicles for the colder weather, so be aware of any antifreeze or other coolant product that may have spilled onto the ground. These chemicals can be deadly to your dog if they are ingested.

Free standing heaters can be tipped over by rambunctious pets so be sure you close off doors on your fireplaces, and block off any fire pits. Be sure to turn off any portable heater in your home whenever you leave the house.

Fleas can be more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year, as they are seeking warm bodies to feed and exist, and ticks can survive very cold weather. Be diligent in the consistent use of flea, tick and heartworm prevention products.

Crisp mornings walking the dog as the sky blushes with russet light crisp days, walking the dog with leaves blowing in the wind, crisp evenings to get in some quality bonding with your dog. Keep safe and enjoy the sights and smells of autumn!