This time of year brings soccer, fresh air, colorful fall leaves, and even a little snow, depending on where you live. It’s the perfect time to get outside with your pet. For dogs, there’s nothing better than frolicking in the leaves, and for cats, as the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the afternoon sun is more appealing than ever. There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your pet is healthy and enjoying the fall season. Here are some tips for keeping your pet healthy in the fall.
Beware of ticks in the fall
Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean ticks aren’t still on the prowl. According to the University of Rhode Island, many tick species are still active in winter and can survive the first frost. Here are some tips to help your pet stay tick-free this fall.
Make sure your ticks are cozy. Remove tick-friendly environments, such as fallen leaves and yard debris.
Check regularly for ticks.
Continue to use anti-tick products and repellents, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors with your pet, such as hiking, camping, or hunting.
Talk to your veterinarian about regular testing for tick-borne infections (The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends annual screening for tick-borne infections).
Beware of rodenticides
Fall is the time of year when mice, rats, and other rodents seek warmth. Where do they seek warmth? It’s your home.
Be wary of mouse traps, rodenticides, and other insecticides. No one wants a rat infestation, but many of the poisons available on the market today are extremely harmful to dogs and cats. If ingested directly, they can even cause death. Always consult your veterinarian about pest control methods that are safe for your pet.
Even if you don’t have a rodent problem or use live traps to deal with rodents humanely, you never know what methods your neighbors use. Carcasses of rats killed with rodenticides can also be dangerous, so if you see a telltale sign of a rat hanging from your pet’s mouth, release it and keep an eye on it, and if you suspect your pet has eaten a rat, call your veterinarian immediately.
There’s a fungus!
In some parts of the United States, fall is as wet as spring. As a result, mushrooms grow in abundance in yards and forests. Most mushrooms are safe, but a small percentage can be very harmful to our animal friends (and us! ), so be sure to check out this handy guide from the ASPCA to learn more about poisonous mushrooms. If your pet has eaten a poisonous mushroom, contact the ASCPA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
Feed your pet good food.
It’s colder outside. Colder temperatures mean it takes more energy to keep the body warm. Food generates body heat, so pets that spend a lot of time outdoors will need to be fed more than in the summer. Each pet’s needs are different, so check with your veterinarian first.
Beware of antifreeze toxicity.
Many people prepare their cars in the fall for winter. In doing so, they often change fluids such as antifreeze, which can be deadly to pets. Antifreeze can be deadly to your pet. Even a minor amount can kill a 10-pound cat1.
The problem lies in a substance called ethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze and has a sweet smell that your pet will want to eat. Therefore, it is important to clean up spills immediately and keep pets out of the garage while the car is being repaired. You can read more about the dangers of antifreeze and other automotive fluids in this article.
Watch out for chocolate and salty foods.
The fall and winter vacations are a time of increased consumption of salty, heavy foods and sweets. It is important to make sure your pet does not eat foods that can make him sick. For dogs, chocolate, grapes, and raisins are toxic and should not be consumed.
For dogs, chocolate, grapes, and raisins are toxic and should not be consumed. A diet rich in fats can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and even serious conditions such as pancreatitis. Also be aware of small morsels that can pose a choking hazard, such as turkey bones at Thanksgiving. Talk to your veterinarian to find out what is safe and what is not.
Watch out for decorations
The holidays are all about decorations. However, be careful about leaving irregular shapes and trinkets around your home. You may want to enjoy the season, but so do your dogs and cats. For example, they may eat pumpkins and other fall decorations. Eating strange things can be dangerous because foreign objects can get into your home. For more information on what to look for and symptoms if your cat eats a foreign object, read our comprehensive article on foreign objects.
If you have some questions or concerns, ask your veterinarian.