Many of us love this time of year — the changing color of the leaves, brisk fall breezes, and finally a respite from the hot weather of Summer. For your dog, however, fall may be more work than fun.
With the change of the season come certain changes in the environment. Fall and spring are mushroom seasons, which mean potential life-threatening problems to pets. Owners should watch out for umbrella-shaped mushrooms and brown mushrooms and call for help immediately when a pet ingests one. Symptoms of illness can range from vomiting to severe digestive problems to complete liver failure.
Even with the darker mornings and nights and the worsening weather, your dog still needs regular exercise. Your dog is unlikely to get the same level of exercise and access to the outdoors that he had during the summer, but it can lead to behavioural problems if your dog does not have enough activity and mental stimulation. If your dog is getting less exercise during the week, his fitness levels will not be as high as in the summer, so don’t go crazy with his exercise at the weekends as he could experience health problems.
The use of rodenticides increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets—if ingested, the results could be fatal. If you must use these products, do so with extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets.
Another turn of the season threat is snakes. As temperatures go down, snakes go into hibernation mode, which means they will be extra grumpy when disturbed. Pet owners who live in areas with snake-friendly conditions, such as woods, should take extra care. Fall is also hunting season, which makes the woods an extra unsafe place for taking pets out walking.
The threat posed by the cold is a no-brainer: animals cannot withstand extreme temperatures. Pets should have warmth and shelter during the last few, cold months of the year. In addition, pets that spend a lot of time outdoors should be given more food during the cold season to help them produce energy and body heat. When ice begins to form outdoors, owners should take extra care in walking their dogs. Sharp ice edges can cut soft paws and ice sheets can cause slips and falls. The salt used to melt ice can also be tempting to lick for a dog, but some chemical deicers are toxic. Table salt or other pet-safe product can be used if driveways need to be de-iced.
Many people choose fall as the time to change their car’s engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so spills should be cleaned up immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants—though they aren’t completely nontoxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.
Holidays usually mean lots of yummy food, but make sure you don’t leave any food out on the counter within reach of your dog. Watch out for foods like chocolate, grapes, and raisins. If you have a counter-surfer, now is a good time to work on that behavior.
Keep your dog indoors on Halloween night. It may be a fun holiday for the kids, but it can end up being one traumatic evening for a dog.
Put your kids’ Halloween candy where your dog can’t find it. That much chocolate could be seriously harmful to him if ingested.