Fall pet care tips and safety
With the arrival of autumn, there's a bit of chill in the air and a bevy of colourful leaves covering the trees as the season changes. It also means there are some changes in store for your pet-care routine to so that you can ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy. Here, we discuss some great fall pet care tips to get you and your pooch ready for the new season.
Let there be light all day.
In most parts of the country, you’ll be turning back the clock for daylight savings time with the arrival of fall. That means that by the time you get home from work, Lassie may be sitting in the dark. This can be scary for her, so avoid this problem by simply leaving a light on before you leave in the morning.
- If a dog walker is stopping by, have him turn on a light in your home before he leaves for the day.
- Don't want to forget to turn on the light in the morning? Put your lights on a timer so that they turn on in the late afternoon automatically each day.
- Another option is to invest in a smart bulb that you can turn on from your phone or tablet when the sun goes down.
Avoid quick time changes for dogs.
If you live in a part of Canada that observes daylight savings time, you know how hard it can be to adjust to the time changes in the fall and spring. Not only are these adjustments hard on humans, but they are hard on canines too. After all, dogs are creatures of habit who thrive on having a regular routine.
- To avoid having an alarm clock pooch wake you an hour early in the morning when the clocks roll back an hour, ease everyone into new routines a week or two prior to changing your clocks.
- Slowly change feeding and walking times by 15-minute increments until you're all comfortably on a new schedule.
- Ignore whining and barking until Lassie is on a new schedule to avoid negative reinforcement of her behavior and an early-morning wake-up call, or bark in this case.
Dress (dogs) for success in autumn.
Chillier temperatures and rainy weather during the fall mean that you have to account for this with Lassie’s daily walks.
- Invest in some cozy doggie sweaters, rain boots and a raincoat for your furry friend. Remember, the right clothing will keep your furry one comfy and protected from the elements.
- Use an umbrella in heavy rain to protect you both and keep to covered areas of your yard when possible. No one likes getting soaked when outside, including your pooch.
- Indoors, invest in some heated pet beds to keep pups toasty warm.
- Clean your fireplaces and service your furnace to get them ready for the dropping temperatures. Don’t forget to always use protective screens in front of fireplaces to protect dogs from potential injury.
Keep a lookout for fall fungi that are no fun.
Fall's blend of moisture, leaf piles and slightly cooler temperatures are the perfect environment for fungi to grow. Unfortunately, these outdoor mushrooms are tempting for dogs to eat, but potentially very toxic. That’s because some mushroom species contain amatoxins – which are also poisonous to humans. Others contain ibotenic acid and muscimol, which are only toxic to dogs, so don’t assume that human-safe mushrooms are safe for our canine companions.
- Be sure to clear any mushrooms you find from your yard prior to going outside with your furry friend. Check daily because they can literally popup overnight, especially after it rains.
- On walks around the neighbourhood, always steer your pooch away from them with her leash.
- Teach your dog the “Leave-it” command so that she avoids these potential poisons with a simple command from you.
- If you think your dog has ingested a mushroom outdoors, try to get a sample of the mushroom, put it in a plastic bag and bring it to your veterinarian. This way, your vet can test the mushroom to see if it is toxic. Your vet can also treat your dog to ensure the mushroom doesn’t cause serious liver or kidney damage if it is toxic.
- Note that if your pup eats a mushroom that you’ve bought for your family at a grocery store or supermarket, it’s likely safe for her to eat, but it’s best to keep all mushrooms away from your dog.
Prepare for autumn pests both great and small.
Pests like fleas and ticks thrive in the fall and carry diseases that are dangerous to humans and pets. Snakes are beginning to go into hibernation too and won’t be happy to see your pooch if she digs them out.
- Ticks carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain fever, so always check your pooch for any on her coat after a walk. Remove them with tweezers and bring them to your vet for evaluation.
- Fleas can transmit tape worms and bartonellosis, so you don’t want those around either, warns the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.
- To avoid either of these pests, visit your vet to pick up some monthly preventative medication to keep fleas and ticks from making a home in your furry one's coat and potentially making her sick.
- Vacuum your carpets regularly to discourage pests like fleas from hanging around and wash pet bedding weekly.
- As fun as they are to jump in, you'll want to clear away any piles of leaves in your yard along with other debris where fleas, ticks and other pests like to hide.
Don't forget to steer clear of tall bushes which could contain snakes preparing to hibernate for the winter. Canada is home to four types of venomous snakes: the northern pacific rattlesnake, massasauga, desert nightsnake and prairie rattlesnake. These snakes pose a severe health risk to your dog, along with nonvenomous ones. Remember that nonvenomous snakes, while not poisonous, can bite your dog too and cause serious bacterial infections, so it’s best to be vigilant in areas where they are common.
Secure school supplies to keep dogs safe.
With the kids back in school since the end of summer, they will be bringing a bunch of school supplies home with them on a regular basis, including scissors, glue, crayons, markers and paints.
- It's important to keep all school supplies away from pups who may be tempted to snack on them, which could make your furry ones very sick.
- Even though supplies like crayons may not be toxic to your dog, they can cause an intestinal blockage if ingested.
- Hang backpacks out of paws reach and always keep art supplies closed and put away in drawers or cubbies.
- Create a kid-safe play room just for your little ones to keep their supplies in that you can close off from your dog, if possible.
Brush away fur regularly when dogs shed.
Some dogs may shed their coats during the fall in preparation for the cooler months of winter. During this time, avoid any furballs from forming on your couch and other furniture around your home by regularly brushing your pet. Not only will it help keep your home fur-free, it will make your pet feel great, avoid tangled fur and help the two of you bond. Reward your furry one for good behavior during grooming sessions with a tasty treat to positively reinforce the experience.
Tread safely around potential toxins to dogs.
Fall is the time that rodents may try to head indoors due to the dropping temperatures and people may place toxic rodenticides or traps around to deter them.
- Keep rodent poisons away from pets as they can make them very sick.
- Stay clear of mechanical traps which can easily injure your dog.
- Avoid nontoxic glue-boards, which could also injure your furry buddy if she steps on them or even tries to lick them.
You may also find people changing their antifreeze around this time of year in preparation for chillier weather, so avoid any suspicious puddles or open bottles of this very toxic substance that is tempting because it tastes sweet to our furry friends. When buying antifreeze yourself, stick to pet-friendlier formulations that are propylene-glycol based rather than ethylene-glycol based.
Set up a safe room for pets to use during holiday celebrations.
Fall is the time when Thanksgiving celebrations and Halloween parties can mean that a lot of new people are going to be coming in and out of your home. Even if they are familiar to you, your pooch may not recognize them if they only visit during the holidays.
- Keep dogs calm and safe by preparing a room specifically for them to relax in during all of these festivities.
- Give them treats, cozy beds, toys, food and water in their special room so that they will feel comfortable.
- Monitor people coming in and out of your home to ensure your pup doesn’t decide to make a run out the door if she’s not contained.
- Instruct young visitors when dealing with your dog to always use a gentle touch. Never allow visiting young children to interact with your dog without the supervision of an adult.
- Only give your dog pet-specific treats and not table scraps from Thanksgiving celebrations which could upset her tummy. Some treats like grapes, cranberries, many kinds of nuts and turkey bones can be potentially toxic or harmful to dogs.
Use decorum with decorations around pets.
When decorating your home for all of the holidays in the fall and even prior to the winter festivities, use caution. Keep all lights and other decorations out of paw's reach to avoid pets from chewing on them, getting tangled in them or even ingesting them. Your pooch could even become electrocuted by the lights if she chews on them, so it’s best to keep them cordoned off from her reach.