It is definitely Fall, and we welcome a break from the hot, sticky summer weather, but there are many autumn hazards lurking for our companion animals. Knowing what these hazards are, and taking simple precautions will keep your pet healthy through the season.
Fall is notorious for the smell of outdoor bonfires or the crackling of the fireplaces replacing air conditioning, both of which can pose a danger for your pets. Animals are curious by nature, so it is important that you close up fireplace openings or block off any fire pits in order to keep your dog protected. Free standing heaters like ceramic space heaters can be tipped over by active pets and also pose a fire hazard, so be sure that any heating system is safe for your family and your animals.
The sights and smells of autumn make a great excuse for heading out to the woods for a long walk with your dog, but it is easy to find yourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most mushrooms have little or no toxicity, but a few of them are highly toxic and can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, most of the toxic ones are difficult to distinguish from harmless ones, so it is best to keep the animals away from areas where mushrooms are growing. Foxtails swaying in the breeze are pretty, but keep a wide berth when walking your dog in areas where there are foxtails or sand burrs. Be aware of the potential dangers if your dog comes in contact with foxtails: irritation, infection, chronic illness, and in some cases, death!
Fewer hours of daylight mean that dog caregivers often end up walking or exercising their canine companions in the darkness of early morning or evening. Reduced light makes it difficult to see animals and people, so it is important to wear reflective clothing and maintain close observation and control.
Autumn is the season when snakes who are preparing for hibernation may be particularly cranky, increasing the possibility of bites to those unlucky pups who want to play with the slippery critters. It you know where snakes are most likely to be found, keep your dog away from those areas!
If you have school age kids, you probably have school-related supplies lying around that your dog may decide are chew toys. Glue sticks, magic markers, and pencils are low in toxicity, but plastic shards from a chewed marker or wood splinters from chewed pencils can harm a dog’s mouth or innards.
Most antifreeze/coolants contain ethylene glycol which is highly toxic, but because of its sweet taste, animals are attracted to it. It is very fast acting and ingestion of just small amounts result in kidney failure and death. Consider switching to newer products that contain propylene glycol which are much safer. Always store new antifreeze in its original container, out of reach of pets and children, and dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway. A thirsty pet may relieve his thirst with antifreeze that is left out or hosed down the driveway.
Fall’s cooler temperatures drive rodents in search of shelter, so the use of rodenticides increases, and if these poisons are ingested, the results can be fatal. If you must use these products, use extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets, realizing that mice and rats can transport chunks of rodenticide from a container to a location that is accessible to other animals.
If you move your plants inside for winter, be aware that there are many plants that are poisonous to pets, including amaryllis, aloe, lilies, carnations, chrysanthemums, daffodils, daisies, philodendron, some palms and grasses, poinsettias, holly and common herbs. For a complete list of poisonous plants, check www.petmd.com or www.humanesociety.org
Our companion animals who depend on humans to keep them safe, healthy and happy will enjoy a wonderful fall if we just follow a few guidelines