Risks to your Pet This Fall

This entry is article 2 of 6 in the September 2014 issue

The cool, crisp morning air, the beautiful autumn foliage and a shift from the hot temps of summer days are all signs that fall is around the corner. While both you and your pet may be jumping for joy to finally take a break from the hot and humid weather of summer, the coming season may present some potential health dangers for your pets. From household poisons to hazards in the yard and holiday-specific threats, take note of the following things that might pose a risk to your furry friends in the months ahead.

Shorter Days Means Less Daylight
With the shortened days, it’s very likely that you’ll be walking your dog in the dark. This makes it very difficult for drivers to see you and your pet. So, take precautions and stay safe! Hold on tight and keep your pet in close proximity by using a leash and collar or chest harness. Also use reflective gear, flashlights, or light-up collars.

Whether it’s the noise of the leaf blower, a blower that is leaking toxic fuel, or the leaf piles that are breeding grounds for bacteria and mold growth, the falling foliage can wreak havoc on your pets. Ticks are also hiding in the piles of leaves. The best place for your pet when you are involved in leaf clean-up is indoors.

“Mums,” a popular fall bloomer is toxic if your dog or cat ingests the flower, stems or leaves. Other potentially toxic plants for your cats and dogs are meadow saffron/autumn crocus and some holiday plants, including holly amaryllis, mistletoe, poinsettia and Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus.

Most wild-growing mushrooms are non-toxic for our companion animals. However, it is difficult to distinguish a toxic from a non-toxic mushroom. Watch out for mushrooms where you walk your dog or where they play and keep your pets away from areas where mushrooms are growing.

Compost Pile
Composting has many benefits, but make sure you do so with your pets in mind. Compost that contains dairy, grains, nuts and legumes can become moldy and produce mycotoxins that, if ingested, can have neurological effects on your pet. You may want to avoid composting certain foods, but other steps you can take include covering or using a closed container and simply keeping your dog or other pets out of the pile.

During the fall months, mice and rats seek warmer surroundings indoors and homeowners turn to rodenticides to help prevent a rodent infestation. These poisonous substances contain anticoagulants, cholecalciferol, bromethalin and phosphides, which can be fatal to your dog or cat. If you have to use these products, use caution and be sure to store in out of reach places.

Do you change your own automotive antifreeze? If so, take note that the sweet taste of ethylene glycol in some antifreeze products attracts pets and even small amounts can poison a cat or dog and be fatal. If you do change your antifreeze, consider using propylene glycol-based coolants. While they are not 100% non-toxic, they are safer than those containing ethylene glycol.

Back to School Supplies
With fall comes back-to-school and time to stock up on things like pencils, magic markers and glue sticks. While not toxic, if ingested, they have the potential to cause gastrointestinal problems and blockages are possible. Keep these school supplies off the floor and out of your pet’s reach.

Holiday Decorations
Holiday decorations can be dangerous to your pets. Keep the ornaments, tinsel, plants, Halloween costumes, candles, etc. all out of reach from your pet’s paws.

Fall is a spectacular time of year and the perfect weather to get outside with your pet. However, we hope by providing this information that you are reminded of these safety hazards to keep your pet healthy and happy in the coming months.

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