During the hot summer months, you’ve learned how to keep your dog cool, hydrated, and happy. But what about when the chillier fall season rolls in, and brings its own set of unique challenges? How do we prep our pooches for the change in atmosphere and the possible dangers that befall them? Here are five ways to keep your dog safe when the temperature changes from warm to crisp.
As the weather gets cooler, you’ll stay indoors more often. Unfortunately, mice and rats will follow your lead, coming inside shelters to find warmth and food.
You may be tempted to put out pesticides or rodenticides—otherwise known as rat poison—to get rid of unwanted visitors. “But these rodent control chemicals can be toxic for pets if ingested,” says Len Donata, VMD, Radnor Veterinary Hospital in Pennsylvania.
“When a dog eats mouse or rat bait, a clotting factor gets blocked,” he explains. “Your pet will start to bleed.” This bleeding can start anywhere—internally or externally, from a small bump on their skin to inside their lungs. You may never even see it. Symptoms can include rapid breathing, blood in their vomit, weakness, or seizures. “If you notice something wrong, immediately call your vet’s emergency line,” Donata urges.
Another thing to remember: some rodent traps can also injure your dog. “A mousetrap with cheese or peanut butter may look like an appetizer to an inquisitive dog,” says Teoti Anderson, CPTA-KA, KPA-CTP, owner of Pawsitive Results in Lexington, South Carolina.
Make sure your pets have no access to areas containing bait or traps. Keep doors locked and regularly check the areas to determine children or pets haven’t disturbed them.
Along with the beautiful fall foliage, unfortunately, comes mold, ragweed, and pollen. For many people, those seasonal allergens can lead to sneezing, a scratchy throat, and watery eyes for both you and your dog. Sure, you can pop an allergy medicine—but what about your pooch?
“When your dog comes in from outside, wipe him down with some gentle baby wipes,” says Anderson. This will help remove any microscopic allergens from his fur so he’s not carrying them around all day long.
“If your pup continues to have symptoms—like scratching, shaking his head, or constantly tearing up—see a vet,” says Dr. Donato. “Depending on how severe the symptoms are, treatments range from simple antihistamines to more aggressive medications.”
“You might only think of ticks as a danger during the summer, but they can pose a big problem to your dog in the fall, too,” Dr. Donato explains. That’s because many animals limit their times outdoors or hibernate when the temps start to drop. The result: fewer victims for ticks to bite. If your dog hangs out in the backyard or goes on walks near woods, he’s an easy target for ticks.
“Ticks have heat sensors and can detect heat up to 30 feet away,” Dr. Donato says. “They can hang out on a branch or tall grass, and then latch onto the creature when he walks by.” Your dog can contract Lyme disease or other nasty infections from a tick after only 24 hours of the bug attaching.
“If a tick does attach to your pet, remove it immediately,” says Anderson. First, wipe the bite site and a pair of fine-point tweezers with rubbing alcohol. (Regular tweezers may squeeze germs from the tick’s body into your pet’s body.) Then grab the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, and pull slowly upward with constant pressure until the tick pops out. “Clean the area again with rubbing alcohol,” she adds.
If there’s a bit of the tick still in the skin, don’t worry—it’ll eventually work itself out. But you may want to drop the tick in a small bottle full of alcohol and then take a photo of it on your phone. “That way you can show your vet if he or she needs to identify it later on,” Anderson recommends, adding, “Keep an eye on your dog’s health for the next two weeks.”
Still don’t want to attempt remove the bug yourself? No problem. Just call your vet!
If you’re a pool owner, chances are you’ve already covered your pool for the winter. “Even though the pool is closed up, you still need to keep your pooch away from it,” says Dr. Donato.
The reason? Water can collect in puddles on top of solid covers. If your dog slides out on the cover, he may have trouble getting back to solid ground. “He can get stranded, and quickly get hypothermia if temperatures are low enough,” says Dr. Donato.
This can also occur with mesh covers and if the water isn’t low enough, your pet can walk across and get wet.
October brings a bunch of trick-or-treating superheroes, goblins, and Frozen Elsa’s to your front door. It also brings a ton of chocolate into your house. Most dog owners know to keep chocolate away from their dogs, but if your pup gets his paws on those sweets, bring them to the vet right away to induce vomiting. Too much chocolate can be toxic.
“You’ll want to keep your Thanksgiving leftovers to yourself, too,” says Anderson. Onions, grapes, and raisins can be toxic to dogs, and “turkey skin is very fatty and can lead to pancreatitis in your pet,” she explains. Many other Thanksgiving foods can also be dangerous for dogs. Dr. Donato warns that feeding Thanksgiving table scraps causes gastroenteritis issues in dogs. “I know it’s a way for people to bond with their pets, but it’s a big reason why we’re kept busy.”
In other words, more leftovers for you.