Fall is officially here: the leaves are falling off the trees, the air is getting cooler, and night is falling faster. While some are already feeling summer nostalgia, others are revelling in the change of seasons - our dogs included!
Indeed, Autumn is a great time of year for our pooches: it’s cool enough to spend a lot of time running outdoors, but not too cold that we have to stay cooped up inside. In other words, Autumn is peak season for doggie fun!
But as responsible pet parents, it is our duty to think of autumn dangers that dogs could fall prey to as well, and how we can avoid them. The fun activities Autumn can bring may conceal the many dangers it brings about as well. Some of these dangers slip right under owners’ noses because they are simply not aware of them!
Seasonal canine illness
Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) is most common between the months of August and November in the UK. Very little is known about this illness, other than the fact that it is somehow linked to spending time in the woods. Indeed, symptoms of the illness tend to appear 24 to 72 hours after a walk in the woods. These symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhoea. If your dog starts to show these signs, do not waste any time, and head over to your vet’s clinic immediately. If left untreated, this illness can be fatal.
Colder weather and shorter days
The change in temperature and daylight hours entails several dangers.
Adapt your dog’s diet
You may decide, out of comfort for both you and your pooch, to exercise a little less on the colder days. That’s fine - but make sure you are adapting your pooch’s diet accordingly. Exercising less but eating just as much as usual is a surefire way to get your dog overweight!
Keep your dog warm
Little dogs, dogs with very short coats, senior dogs, or sick dogs may suffer from the cold weather. Cool weather can also worsen arthritis, which could cause your dog to limp, or simply to refuse to exercise. If your dog is particularly sensitive to the cold, don’t forget to wrap them up in a warm doggie jacket before you go outside!
Prepare for safe walks in the dark
You may now have to walk your dog in dim light or even darkness. If this is the case, you must be extra vigilant! Make sure you have a strong recall with your pooch, otherwise keep him on a lead. You wouldn’t want him getting too close to a badger in the woods, to the road where cars are passing by, or to trash that has been discarded somewhere and that he could quickly ingest! You can purchase a reflective doggie jacket, bandana, or collar clip to keep track of your pooch while out in the evenings!
Conkers, acorns, mushrooms and fallen fruit
Acorns and conkers are covering woodland floors at the moment, and though your dog may not seem interested in them, keep a close eye on them anyway! Both can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large quantities, and can cause stomach upsets and neurological problems, as well as chokage or intestinal blockages! Certainly never throw nuts as toys for your dog - keep your pooch well away from them!
As for mushrooms, they are flourishing at the moment thanks to the humidity in the air and on the ground. Not all species of wild mushroom are poisonous, but some are, and the two can be very difficult to tell apart. To be on the safe side, it’s best to make sure your dog isn’t taking an interest in any fungus during your forest walkies.
Fruit may have also fallen from the trees and onto the ground with the change of season. Fruits with seeds (apples for instance), are especially dangerous to dogs. What’s more, rotting fruit contains tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause muscle tremors and convulsions. The alcohol contained in fermenting fruit can also cause sickness and diarrhoea. Better safe than sorry: pick up any fallen fruit from your backyard, and keep your dog away from them as much as possible when out on walks!
As the weather gets cooler, mice and rats are seeking shelter and warmth in the proximity of our homes. Unfortunately, this means more and more people are using rodenticides (commonly known as ‘rat poison’) to keep them away. However, rodenticides are not only dangerous to rodents. In fact, they contain strong chemicals that can be fatal to household pets. Indeed, rat poison is an anticoagulant which inhibits blood clotting, meaning any small injury could make an animal bleed out (both externally or internally).
Signs that your dog has eaten rat poison include weakness, bloody vomiting, rapid breathing, and even seizures. Unfortunately, the signs do not always appear straight after ingestion, so if you have any doubt whatsoever, rush your pet to the vet straight away. Vets can perform specialised tests that can confirm rodenticide poisoning. If you are yourself experiencing problems with pesky rodents, you can use ultrasonic pet repellents, peppermint oil, or even humane traps to keep them away without endangering your beloved pet.
As the temperature drops, especially at night, people are starting to use antifreeze in their cars to make sure they’ll be able to drive off in the morning. Unfortunately, antifreeze is both extremely toxic and appetising to dogs. Indeed, the liquid is sweet tasting to them, but this could be one deadly treat. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which can rapidly cause kidney failure and death.
A big sign that your dog may have ingested antifreeze is unstability (some describe this as ‘appearing drunk’). If you think your dog may have ingested this toxic liquid, bring him to a vet clinic immediately. As always, prevention is the best method. Store your antifreeze out of your pet's reach at all times, do not let your dog near you when you are dealing with antifreeze, and do not let your dog drink from puddles where antifreeze may have leaked into from a driveway.
Keep your dog safe and have a close eye on him while you enjoy the lovely Autumn season. After all, our pets need looking after every time of the year!