Enjoying the Pleasures of Autumn with Your Pet …Safely!
By Carolyn Cockroft
Enjoying the Pleasures of Autumn with Your Pet …Safely!
In the early days of autumn, just as most of us welcome the cool relief from the heat of summer, furry animals also enjoy what it has to offer. Moderate temperatures are a boost to outdoor activity with our pets; however, this increase in outdoor activity can create safety concerns. To keep your pet free from sickness or injury, keep these tips in mind.
Supervise Exercise in Reduced Daylight. As the days grower shorter, owners who walk their pets in the early mornings and evenings could find it more difficult to see other animals, people, and cars in driveways, sidewalks, and roads. People working in emergency veterinary practice have noticed an increase in the cases of dogs and cats suffering injuries from being hit by a car during daybreak or twilight hours. If you exercise your pets during these hours, wear reflective gear and keep control of them with a leash or harness. Always make sure they are microchipped, and that their tags are current in case they go missing.
Keep Shedding at Bay. Shedding is natural process, especially in the fall due to an animal ridding itself of old hair to make room for its winter coat. To minimize pet hair on furniture and clothes, brush your pet weekly, if not daily. Excessive shedding, however, is not normal, and can be a sign of an allergic reaction. If you suspect your pet is suffering from an allergy, consult your veterinarian.
Watch for Signs of Allergies. The fall’s refreshing relief from summer’s heat is an ideal time to increase outdoor exercise for your pet. Open air activity also creates unavoidable exposure to trees, grasses, and pollens which are the major source of allergens. The following are signs that your pet may be suffering from seasonal—and often painful—allergies and should be treated by your veterinarian:
- obsessive paw licking and face rubbing, caused by chemicals in the immune system triggered by allergies;
- scratching or biting, a natural reaction to itchy and inflamed skin;
- difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing (these respiratory issues are often symptomatic of allergic bronchitis or feline asthma);
- chronic ear infections—distinguishable by head shaking and red, waxy ears;
- excessive shedding, hair loss, and dandruff, which can be treated with prescription medications; and
- inflamed skin or lesions—a serious side effect of allergies and more common in cats.
While some of these symptoms, such as the skin lesions or itching might be temporarily relieved with applications of witch hazel, cool tea bags or coconut oil, be sure to seek treatment from your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Avoid Harmful Autumn Plants. Cooler weather encourages mushroom growth and other fall vegetation. Most mushrooms are not poisonous to animals, but a few species, difficult to distinguish from the nontoxic ones, can cause life-threatening problems. Other plants, such as chrysanthemums, autumn crocus, clematis, red maple leaves, and ginkgo seeds can be highly poisonous to some animals, causing gastrointestinal bleeding, severe vomiting, kidney and liver damage, and respiratory failure. The ASPCA provides a list of poisonous plants at: Hazardous or Harmless? Discover Which Fall Plants Are Toxic to Pets | ASPCApro. Symptoms might not be evident for several days, so contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately if your pet has ingested any plants.
Use Rodenticides with Caution. During the cold season, homeowners may use rat and mouse poison to destroy rodents seeking shelter indoors. Rodenticides, if ingested by pets, can cause kidney and liver failure, muscle weakness, seizures, and death. Avoid using these products altogether or, if necessary, keep them in places your pet cannot reach. Likewise, engine coolant is highly toxic, so if the fall is your time to change your car’s coolant, take care to clean up any spills. Again, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at once if your pet has ingested any substance you know could be harmful.
Watch out for Wildlife. As temperatures begin to cool, wild animals are preparing for their winter hibernation. If you live close to wooded area, keep a close eye out for creatures such as skunks, raccoons, or bears. Especially beware of venomous snakes and while outside keep your pet on a leash.
Keep Fall Leaf Cleanup at a Distance. Loud and sudden noises from leaf blowers can frighten some pets and cause them to hide or run from home. Animals may lick up fuel and oil that sometimes leak from these devices and become poisoned. Over time, leaf piles on your lawn quickly accumulate bacterial and mold growth which, if ingested by your pet, could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. The safest course is to keep your pets confined indoors, away from your yard work
Provide Fresh Water: Keeping your pet hydrated is extremely important all year round and not just during warm summer months. Dehydration can impact the flow of oxygen to the brain and cause health problems such urinary tract infections. Make sure a bowl or two of fresh water is always available, consider getting a pet water fountain, offer hydrating food options, and check with your vet to see if your pet could benefit from electrolyte solutions.
The fall season is ideal for getting plenty of exercise and fresh air—a healthy habit for human and beast alike. Just be sure you practice moderation, close observation and, when necessary, make a visit to the veterinarian to keep any symptoms in check. After all, safeguarding the well-being of our pets is a year-round activity!
About the Author: A volunteer at King Street Cats, Carolyn Cockroft is supervised by two indoor cats, Marigold and Butterbean, who enjoy watching the outdoors from their window perches in their home.