The leaves are changing colors, cooler weather is setting in. It is time to change the antifreeze, wage war on the little mice moving in from the fields in search of warmer housing, and stock up on candy for Halloween. This beautiful time of year is enjoyed by everyone, both two legged, and four legged, but also brings its share of potential dangers for the four legs under your care.

  • Since there’s less daylight this time of year, it is more likely that dog walks will sometimes take place at dusk or even after dark. Be sure that both you and your dog are visible. Reflective accessories provide an effective way to keep both you and your dog safe and always carry a lighted flashlight.
  • If you have young kids, you probably have school-related items lying around that dogs see as chew toys. Glue sticks, pencils, and magic markers may be low in toxicity but are not edible, and you could end up with a sick dog, and plastic shards from a gnawed marker or glue stick or wood splinters from chewed pencils can harm your dog’s mouth or innards. Play dough and silly putty can definitely cause damage. Keep out of paw’s reach!
  • Most antifreeze/coolants contain ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to dogs. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by animals. It is fast acting and results in kidney failure and possible death. Just small amounts can be fatal if ingested. Products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol are considered safer than the traditional antifreeze, but should be kept out of reach of pets (and children.) Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway, and if you suspect that your pet has consumed even a small amount of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Rodenticides cause severe bleeding, and kidney failure. There are no safe rodenticides, and whether out of hunger, boredom, or just curiosity, pets will consume these products, so if you use them, be sure to put them in places inaccessible to your pets. They can kill!
  • Both kids and dogs enjoy playing in the colorful piles of raked-up leaves, but these leaves can quickly accumulate moisture, bacteria and mold, and ingestion of them can cause digestive upsets including vomiting, diarrhea, and a decrease in appetite. Dried leaves are often burned as part of fall’s cleanup, and curious dogs should be kept separated from this activity.
  • Freestanding heaters can be tipped over by rambunctious pets and pose a hazard, and can be a danger for your pets. Make sure you close doors on your fireplaces or block off any fire pits to keep your pet protected, and be sure you turn off any portable heater in your home every time you leave the house in order to keep your pet safe from potential accidents.
  • It’s mushroom season, and although most mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the few that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish which are which, so the best solution is to keep pets from areas where any mushrooms might be growing. Our household pet, Cooper, found mushrooms in his little fenced yard and, despite the fact that he threw them up, he was one very sick pup for several weeks. Seek immediate vet care if you suspect that your dog has chewed on mushrooms.
  • With colder weather, many pet caregivers stop worrying about flea and tick infestations. The truth is that fleas can be more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year, as they are frantically seeking warm bodies and other warm places to feed and exist. Ticks have been abundant this summer, and they can hibernate and survive very cold weather. Another major nuisance this fall has been mosquitoes, and they pose serious health risks, with the potential to transmit life-threatening diseases such as heartworm. Be diligent in the consistent use of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products.

Our companion animals depend on humans to keep them safe, healthy and happy, and we will all enjoy a wonderful fall if we just follow a few guidelines.