Autumn brings a refreshing change of pace with its crisp air, stunning fall colors, and the promise of holidays! It also poses new challenges and hazards for pet owners. In this brief guide, we'll navigate through essential autumn pet safety tips, delve into the specifics of Halloween pet safety, and explore how to keep your dog comfortable as the temperatures drop. For more comprehensive information on pet safety, don't hesitate to check out our in-depth pet safety blog.
Table of Contents
Autumn Pet Safety Tips
Beware of Seasonal Plants
You’re not the only one who can get seasonal allergies, and you’re also not the only one who wants to try a tasty new treat! Many plants that bloom or drop leaves in the fall can be poisonous to pets and if you have a highly food motivated dog they can treat that poisonous leaf like it’s a rare dog treat! It’s always important to establish a “cease” command with your pet for these situations, such as “leave it” or some other command that, hopefully, your dog will listen to in the heat of the moment.
Common culprits include Chrysanthemums and Autumn Crocuses, but the types of potentially toxic to dogs plants vary wildly. For example, Virginia Creepers are moderately toxic to both dogs and humans alike (despite their stunning red foliage in the fall). Keep these plants, and other plants that are toxic to dogs in your specific area, out of your pet's reach.
If your dog does eat something off the ground and you didn’t get a chance to see what it was, keep a VERY close eye on your dog. If you see any strange change in behavior, immediately call your vet. This goes for all seasons in general, but as we get to Halloween a lot more trash from various candy wrappers start to accumulate on the ground. Did you know that chocolate is the most popular candy in the U.S.? Did you know that chocolate is toxic to dogs (Seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, polydipsia… It’s not pretty.)? All it takes is one wrapper to cause a nasty vet visit, especially if that wrapper still had chocolate in it.
Watch the Food
Autumn is a season of culinary delight—from pumpkin pies to apple ciders! However, many autumnal foods are not safe for pets. As much fun as it is to keep your dog “included” in big family meals by sneaking them scraps of food, take extra care to make sure your dog only eats what is best for him/her/them. One unknowing treat from the table could lead to a surprise vet visit! If you’re not sure if you’re dog can eat something or not, reach out to your vet or find a reputable online source that is backed by veterinarians. A good example of this is www.veterinarians.org/, advice is compiled here and reviewed by vets to ensure that you’re getting the best and most up-to-date information possible about your pets safety.
Exercise Caution with Rat Poison (Rodenticides)
As temperatures drop, rodents tend to move indoors, prompting homeowners to use rodenticides. Rat poison is, well, poison. Small doses can and will make your dog sick, and could even kill them. If you need to deal with a rodent problem and you have pets in general, try to avoid using poison. No-kill traps allow catch and release if needed, but there are also other more tame methods of removing rodents from your house that also don’t come with the chance of painful, agonizing, dog death. Always opt for pet-safe alternatives or consult your veterinarian for advice.
How to Keep Your Pet Safe on Halloween
While dressing up your pet can be adorable, not all costumes are pet-friendly. Ensure the costume doesn't restrict movement, vision, or breathing. If it feels like the costume is too tight? It is. If it looks like your dog is waddling or struggling to walk and it’s “so cute!”, it’s actually not. Your dog is struggling to walk and should swap up their outfits to one that helps them feel comfortable and able to move.
Speaking of comfort…
Limit Social Interactions
The influx of trick-or-treaters, family, party guests, and just the increase in noise at night in general can be stressful for pets (especially dogs). Create a calm environment in a separate room with their favorite toys and a comfortable bed. Some dogs appreciate background noise or even a show to watch. The background noise can help drown out the chaos and allow your dog to focus on something else.
Did you know that Bluey is made specifically with colors that dogs can see? Maybe put on a cute, heart warming episode of Bluey (which is all of them, let’s be honest here). Don’t believe me?
If all of the above STILL isn’t working, it's worth your time to look into calming treats of some kind for your dog. Honest Paws offers calming bites for dogs that can help improve your dog's sense of well being and calm when your friends are partying. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should consult with your vet before you introduce behavior modifying treats into your dogs diet.
Keep Candy Away
Many candies, especially those containing chocolate or xylitol, are toxic to pets. Store Halloween candy where your pet can't access it and educate kids to do the same. Kid’s often have an instinct to share with the people who are important to them, but they may need some hand holding to understand that unfortunately dogs can like a flavor that is bad for them.
If you have a really stubborn and clever dog, you may need to keep candy completely out of reach for them. In some extreme cases I’ve seen pet owners lock candy away in bear proof camping boxes, naturally this pet owner had a large dog (Catahoula Hound).
How to Keep Pets Safe in Cold Weather
Invest in Pet-Friendly Antifreeze
Traditional antifreeze is deadly to pets but tastes sweet (almost like candy…), attracting them to lick it. Once they’ve found it it’s like someone dropped a whole cake on the ground just for them! Always opt for pet-friendly antifreeze and store it securely. While it may be pet-friendly, that doesn’t mean that it’s “ok” for your dogs to eat/drink/consume the pet-friendly antifreeze.
If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze of any kind, stop reading and call your vet immediately.
Provide Adequate Shelter
If your pet spends considerable time outdoors, ensure they have a warm and dry place to retreat. Insulated pet houses can be a great option, as well as setting up heat lamp warmed rooms (so long as you follow property safety precautions) or stalls for your more outdoorsy dogs. If you’re cold, chances are they can feel it too. The exception of course being dogs who are adapted to the cold, yet even then you should learn what your dogs signs and communication style is so you can easily determine if they are uncomfortable and need your attention.
Consider Pet Clothing
Not all pets have a dense coat to protect them from cold temperatures. Pet jackets or sweaters can be beneficial for short-haired breeds. Dog shoes can keep your dog comfortable in the heat and in the cold while also preventing burns or painfully cracked and damaged paws from the snow and ice. A cooling vest in the summer can be replaced by a windbreaker jacket or a warm vest to help keep your dog's core body temperature warm.
Autumn can be a time of enjoyment for both you and your pet if you take the proper precautions. Remember, safety never takes a holiday. Stay vigilant, stay compassionate, and enjoy the fall season with your pet, making it a memorable and safe experience for all!