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Fall Pet Care Tips for Dog and Cat Owners

dog fall seasonAs the cooler weather approaches, we all look forward to more long walks outside in the fall leaves, comfort foods and holidays.

However, there are a few things that responsible pet owners should be aware of to ensure a safe comfortable season for their pets.

Rodenticide Poisoning

As the outdoor temperatures become cooler, mice, rats and other rodents seek shelter indoors. Therefore, the fall is a common time for people to use rat poison in and around their homes. Rat poisons pose a major hazard to our pets if ingested.

Traditional rodenticides such as warfarin and brodifacoum are anti-coagulants which cause internal bleeding and ultimately death if not treated quickly and aggressively.

Newer generation rodenticides that include ingredients such as bromethalin act on the nervous system and are even more dangerous to pets as there is no antidote available.

Mushroom Toxicity

Mushroom seasons are fall and spring. The majority of mushrooms are non-toxic. However, approximately 1% of mushrooms are highly toxic to pets.

Since it is difficult to identify which species are safe or toxic, it is best to keep your pet away from all mushrooms you may see growing in the fall.

If you see your pet ingest a wild mushroom, obtain a sample for potential identification and call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center immediately.

Chocolate Toxicity

While chocolate may be one of our favorite human treats, it is not a good idea to share chocolate with our pets.

Most mild chocolate ingestions cause gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea. These signs are usually from the high sugar and fat content. However, chocolate is directly toxic because of the theobromine and caffeine.

Baking chocolate contains the most theobromine followed by semi-sweet and dark chocolate, milk chocolate and then flavored cakes, cookies and brownies.

More serious side effects include hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias and even death. If your pet ingests chocolate, it is best to contact your veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian can determine the level of toxicity and induce vomiting and provide additional supportive care to reduce the side effects.

Anti-freeze Ingestion

Fall is a popular time to change car engine coolant. The most common coolants are ethylene glycol-based. Ethylene glycol is highly toxic and yet tastes good to pets, so spills should be cleaned up immediately and storage containers should be kept out of reach.

If veterinary care is not sought within hours of ingestion, 1 teaspoon can kill a 10 lb cat and 1-2 tablespoons can be fatal to a 10 lb dog.

Healthy Pumpkin

What does fall bring that is safe and healthy for pets? PUMPKIN!

Pumpkin is a healthy additive to your pet’s diet. It contains soluble fiber that can help with digestive issues including diarrhea and constipation. Pumpkin also contains beta-carotene and iron, anti-oxidants, essential fatty acids and other wonderful ingredients that promote healthy skin, coat and overall condition.

Try adding 1-2 teaspoons of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) to your dog’s or cat’s food.