Fall Fun with your Pets
By DR, REBEKAH FROST – OBSERVER Columnist , Observer Today
The air is filled with the smell of crisp dried leaves and the days are becoming shorter. Apple picking, pumpkin carving, jumping in piles of raked leaves, and horseback riding through the beautiful changing colors of the forest are all fond memories I have of the fall season. What better time of year to share with family and with our furry family friends? What should a pet owner be aware of with caring for pets this time of year? Here are a few tips and interesting facts for
you and your pet at this wonderful time of year!
1. Be cautious about letting your pets eat the falling apples and pears from your trees – apples and pear seeds contain a toxic substance called cyanide. When too many seeds are chewed and ingested, the cyanide can lead to increased heart rate and respiratory rate and lead to death in a short period of time. Also our area has many many grapes! Do not let your pets eat grapes at all! Grapes have recently been shown to contain a toxic substance that can lead to acute kidney failure in your pets.
2. Carve pumpkins with your pet! Either fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin are a great source of fiber for your pet. If your pet is on a weight loss plan, pumpkin and other squashes are a great source of a low fat high fiber food to help your pet feel fuller. These squashes also contain nutrients like beta carotene and iron and the seeds contain antioxidants and essential fatty acids that are all very good for the health of your pet. If choosing canned pumpkin be sure to get the straight pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling.
3. Fall is the perfect time to take your pet hiking. Keep your pet on a leash because there may be other pet owners walking their dogs. Your pet may become seriously injured if it ends up in a fight with another pet. Consider carrying pepper spray or a small air horn in the event you may cross paths with an aggressive pet that may attack your dog. (Editor’s note: If you are under 18 or have been convicted of a felony or assault, it is illegal to have pepper spray. This substance, of course, may only be used for defense.)
4. Fall is a time of year to prepare for the cold weather ahead. Rodenticides may be used this time of year when the rodents are trying to find a warm place for the winter. Do not use rodenticides in any area accessible to your pets. If you have cats that are avid hunters I recommend boarding them for a couple weeks if you need to use a rodenticide. Ingesting the rodent that has eaten the rat poison can still be very toxic and life threatening to your cat.
Use caution when preparing your vehicle for the winter. Do not leave antifreeze bottles open and do not let any drip on the ground where your pet may lick it. This is a highly toxic substance that can lead to acute kidney failure and death.
5. Hide the Halloween chocolate! Don’t forget chocolate is very toxic to your pets. Chocolate can cause tremors and seizures and can lead to coma and death. Have your children keep their candy in a safe place away from your pets!
6. Do not let your pet run during hunting season or any time for that matter! Unfortunately there are people who may shoot your dogs if they are on the loose. They may be a nuisance by chasing the deer away from where someone may be hunting. Also this time of year people may put out traps for coyotes, fox, or mink. These traps are hidden well and if your pet is running they may get caught in one of these traps.
7. Many pet owners think that because it’s colder, it is OK to stop using their flea and tick preventatives. This time of year is actually the worst time of year for these bugs. Fleas are trying to get into your house and on your pets before winter. Ticks are much more active at temperatures between 40-50 degrees. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease which can lead to fever, lethargy, chronic arthritis and kidney disease.
8. Fall is a time of year for excessive shedding and allergies! It is normal for a pet to shed its summer coat in preparation for their winter coat. Be sure to brush pets at least a couple days per week and keep up with their grooming this time of year to prevent uncomfortable matting. If your pet is losing enough hair to leave bald spots, they may have an underlying skin allergy to fleas or many of the fall pollens. We highly recommend a check up if your pet’s hair is thinning
9. Enjoy the festivities with your pets! Dress them up for Halloween but be careful they aren’t stressed or overheated in their costumes. Take them with you trick or treating but again keep them on a leash and keep the chocolate away from them! The doctors and staff at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic hope you enjoy fall fun with your pets and have a wonderful rest of the year!