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Between colorful leaves, fun holiday activities, and respite from the summer heat, fall is a beautiful time of year. It also brings several potential seasonal hazards for cats and dogs. Fortunately, pet parents can do plenty of things to keep their pets safe while enjoying the change of seasons.
Here are eight fall pet safety tips for pet parents this autumn:
In various regions throughout the U.S., the fall season comes with temperature drops. Too much time in cold weather puts cats and dogs at risk of hypothermia and frostbite. While pets with thicker winter coats can withstand cooler temperatures longer than their shorter-haired counterparts, even they aren’t immune to the dangers of the cold.
Pet safety in cold weather is critical. Pet parents should limit the time their dogs (and cats) spend outdoors as temperatures decline, especially if they have a shorter-haired breed. Those with puppies and senior dogs should also take extra precautions. Younger and older canines have more trouble regulating their body temperatures. Additionally, cold weather can aggravate joint pain in senior dogs with arthritis.
Antifreeze (also known as engine coolant) is a vehicle fluid that prevents water from freezing in a car’s cooling system during the colder months. Many pet parents keep some in their garages in case they need to top off their reservoirs. While critical for their cars, this liquid is toxic to cats and dogs.
Pet parents should store any antifreeze out of reach of their pets and clean up any spills right away. Ingesting even a small amount could lead to kidney failure or death. If pet parents suspect their pet has eaten any amount of antifreeze, they should contact their vet or an online vet for immediate guidance.
Ticks are generally most prevalent during the spring and summer months. While they become less active in cooler weather, they don’t disappear entirely. Piles of colorful leaves can provide insulation, helping these pests survive the fall and winter seasons. Some tick species, such as deer ticks, are active all year.
Preventative medications are critical for protecting cats and dogs from ticks and tick-borne illnesses. Pet parents should provide them year-round, even in if they live where the fall and winter get pretty cold. They should also take measures to deter ticks, such as cleaning up leaf piles and using cedar mulch around their homes.
The arrival of fall brings Halloween and Thanksgiving (followed quickly by Christmas in winter). Between trick or treating, baking, and tasty gifts from guests, these holidays often mean lots of tempting sweets. Curious cats and dogs might snag some if pet parents leave them unattended on counters, tables, or other accessible surfaces.
Many favorite fall foods are bad for cats and dogs. Copious amounts of sugar, butter, and flour in baked goods can cause digestive upset, lethargy, and, in some pets, allergic reactions. Chocolate can be particularly problematic, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures, and may be lethal in large amounts. Pet parents should also watch out for artificial sweeteners in sugar-free treats. Xylitol can lead to low blood pressure, seizures, and liver failure.
Pet parents should store all human treats, including Halloween candy, cookies, and other baked goods, where their cats and dogs can’t reach them. They should also be aware of other hazardous food items such as cooked bones, fruit pits, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and rotten fruit.
If pet parents want to share foods with their pets during the holiday seasons, there are plenty of safe options. Some of the best include carrots, apple slices (no seeds), plain cooked sweet potato, plain cooked pumpkin, strawberries, and blueberries.
With so many people traveling during the holidays, more pet parents than usual may be booking their cats and dogs for stays at nearby boarding facilities. Kennels can quickly run out of space, or they might close altogether. Pet sitters may not be available due to their own travel plans.
To avoid having to find a new kennel or unfamiliar pet sitter at the last minute, pet parents should make arrangements well in advance. That way, they have time to research their options and find a good fit for their pets. It’ll save pet parents and their pets a lot of unnecessary stress.
Indoor and outdoor fall décor items often have shiny, flowy, and other attention-grabbing features such as ribbons, wires, bells, or motion-activated components. Although aesthetically pleasing or amusing to humans, cats and dogs may view them as potential toys. Accidentally ingesting foreign objects can lead to dangerous situations, such as choking, tears in digestive organs, and intestinal obstructions. Candles are a popular fall decoration and a potential fire hazard that can cause severe burns (or gastrointestinal issues if ingested). Pet parents should ensure that all fall (and other seasonal) décor is out of reach of pets. They may also want to avoid using specific items if their pets show too much interest in them.
In many areas, it’s not uncommon to see mushrooms popping up in the yard during the fall. While one wild mushroom species might be harmless, others may be toxic. Pet parents should keep their yards free of all fungi to avoid potential issues. They should also look out for mushrooms during regular walks or hikes through the woods.
The fall months may also drive rats, mice, and other small wild animals to seek shelter in a pet parent’s home or garage. Rodenticides are a common solution, but they’re highly toxic to cats and dogs. To avoid accidental ingestion, pet parents should store poisons out of reach or hire pest control to take care of the issue for them.
For some pet parents, fall means back-to-school time. Their homes may be full of new supplies like paper, folders, pencils, markers, and glue sticks. Curious pets might mistake these items for toys or snacks, and accidental ingestion could lead to an upset stomach or intestinal blockage. Pet parents should keep school supplies out of reach of pets and ensure their children put their schoolwork away as soon as they complete it.
With these autumn pet safety tips, pet parents can enjoy the change of seasons to the fullest with their cats and dogs. If they need additional help protecting their pets during the fall season, Fuzzy is here to help. With a Fuzzy membership, pet parents can receive cold safety and pet weather tips and other helpful advice 24/7/365 should anything happen, as well as discounts on a wide range of vet-approved products.