Fall is a fun season for so many reasons—pumpkin picking, Halloween decorations, cozy sweaters, the changing of the leaves and the upcoming holidays, just to name a few. Pet owners tend to love fall because it’s a great time to take your four-legged friends out on beautiful, scenic walks and enjoy the crisp autumn air. However, as lovely as fall is, the season also presents a few dangers for our pets.
Dogs are more susceptible to fall hazards than cats, since they tend to go outside more often, but both pets might find themselves sick or injured if they run into these ten dangers.
- Insecticides and rodenticides: The use of chemical agents designed to kill off rodents like mice tends to increase in fall, before these creatures decide to make your house their home for the winter. However, applying rodenticide near your home can put your cat or dog at risk for severe health problems or even death, since these chemicals are highly toxic to pets. Avoid using the products in places where your pets could ingest them and always store the bottles safely in a locked container.
- Piles of leaves: Jumping into a huge pile of fallen leaves is a favorite fall pastime for many, and dogs love to join in the fun. However, be wary of allowing your dog to jump into leaf piles that are sitting on the side of the road. Small sticks and branches often get raked up with leaves and might be concealed within the pile. One unlucky jump could leave your dog injured by a sharp stick. Instead, create piles of leaves in your own yard and let your pup have fun leaping in and out. You can also fill a kiddie pool with leaves to avoid reforming the pile over and over!
- Antifreeze: As cold weather approaches, you’ll probably fill up your car’s antifreeze chamber. But you should keep this substance far away from pets and make sure any spills are cleaned up quickly. The ethylene glycol present in antifreeze has a sweet scent and taste to pets, but ingesting even a small amount can be fatal.
- Early evening darkness: In fall, the days get shorter and shorter. This change in the amount of daylight might catch some pet owners off guard, especially if they are used to the longer days of summer. Earlier nightfall can put both you and your dog at risk of injury or death if you are walking near a road without proper reflective gear. If it’s too dark, a driver might not be able to see you or your pooch and get into an accident. If you decide to walk Fido close to sunset or in the dark, make sure you wear bright and reflective clothing and that your dog has a reflective vest or light-up collar.
- Allergens: Fall allergies don’t only affect humans. Both dogs and cats can have severe allergic reactions to common fall allergens, including ragweed, pollen, dust, dirt and mold. Be careful when letting your pets outside or talking them for walks to keep them away from the substances that trigger their allergic reactions.
- Festive treats: Fall is the season of many exciting holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. While us pet owners love to indulge in the sweets and treats customary to these festivities, many of them can be toxic to our pets. Keep pets far away from Halloween candy—both chocolate and gummy candies can be fatal if enough is ingested. Additionally, don’t let your pets eat from your plate at Thanksgiving. Many popular food items, such as stuffing filled with onions and fatty meats, are dangerous to pets and can make them sick.
- Holiday decorations: Whether you get into the spirit of Halloween with lights or hang Christmas decorations up early, make sure none of your decorations are accessible to your pets. Things like tinsel or string lights can tangle around your pet, potentially choking them. Many decorations hung on hooks can cause injury if they fall. Other, smaller decorations pose choking hazards if they’re within your pet’s reach.
- Cold weather: Dropping temperatures can make a normal walk a frigid nightmare for small dogs or dogs with very short hair. Make sure to clothe your dog in a sweater or booties to keep them warm while outside. Additionally, watch out for signs of arthritis in your pets, since cold weather can stiffen joints and make pets uncomfortable.
- Ticks and fleas: A lot of pet parents mistakenly believe that once summer is over, insects like fleas and ticks won’t be an issue. Really, ticks live well into fall, and fleas don’t die until the temperatures start to drop. Both nuisances will want to hitch a ride home on your dog or cat to escape the harshness of winter, so be sure to do routine tick and flea checks to prevent an infestation and help your dog avoid diseases.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are prevalent in the fall, and an inquisitive dog might sniff them out while on a walk or in the backyard. Some mushrooms are very toxic and can lead to severe sickness or death if your pet ingests them.
Despite all the potential dangers for pets, fall is a wonderful time to get out and celebrate with your four-legged friends. Just remember to be cautious when letting your pet sniff around to prevent any potential health problems.