Dr. Alison Birken, DVM
Ready or not, fall is approaching. The white pants are put away, the trips to the beach come to a halt, the kids are back in school, and cinnamon spice candles and fall decorations cover the house! Personally, I just love this time of year and the start of the holiday season. With all the allure and beauty of the season, unfortunately, there are some common pet emergencies that I see at my animal hospital. I wanted to take a moment to prepare everyone for common fall pet dangers.
Football parties and food
It’s officially football season, and everyone loves hosting the game. Unfortunately, I see a lot of upset stomachs during the fall because of table scraps and dangerous foods that guests give pets.
Dogs and cats are used to eating the same food every day. Their gastrointestinal tracts develop natural flora (or bacteria) that specifically digest their regular food. When dogs eat something that they are unaccustomed to, such as nachos and chicken wings, they can develop severe inflammation, vomiting and diarrhea. It can also lead to more serious conditions such as pancreatitis.
In addition to foreign foods, some foods in large quantities are toxic to our pets, such as grapes, onions, garlic and raisins. Some foods can present a risk for choking, such as:
Corn on the cob
Fruits with pits
Foods with bones
Toothpicks or skewers
I have surgically removed all of these items, which can be very costly and stressful. Make sure to talk to your guests, especially kids, before parties and remind them not to feed your dogs any food. You want to enjoy the party too, not spend it looking after a pet with an upset stomach.
There are certain types of mushrooms that can be toxic for our dogs, causing:
Liver and kidney disease
Amanita phalloides is a mushroom found throughout the United States which can be difficult to identify. I tell my pet parents to avoid all mushrooms and consider them toxic until proven otherwise. Make sure to check your yard for any wild mushrooms, and keep a look out when you take your pets for a walk.
Mothballs contain either paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene, which can cause:
Severe abdominal pain
Possible kidney or liver failure
Severe abnormality of your pet’s red blood cells if ingested
If you use mothballs, please make sure they are well out of the reach of your pets.
Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste and our pets love to lick it. Antifreeze is extremely dangerous if ingested and is one of the most common forms of poisoning in pets. As little as one teaspoon in a cat or a tablespoon or two for dogs, depending on the size of animal, can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy.
There are several different types of chemicals in mouse and rat poisons, all with different active ingredients. Many of these mouse and rat baits are toxic and can be deadly if ingested. If your dog ingests any rodenticides, bring him to your veterinarian immediately. Try and take the label or box that the rodenticide came with so your veterinarian can assess the active ingredient and whether it is toxic. When placing rodenticides, it is imperative to keep them away from your pets!
Compost bins or piles
Piles of decomposing and decaying organic matter and molding food products in your backyard compost pile have the potential to contain “tremorgenic mycotoxins,” meaning molds which cause tremors. Even small amounts ingested can result in tremors or seizures within 30 minutes to several hours.
I hope this helps all my pet parents out there be more aware of all the possible fall pet hazards. So get out there with your pets and enjoy the beautiful weather with safety and caution. My goal always is to keep our pets safe and healthy. As much as I love seeing them walk in through my doors, I prefer to help avoid “sick” trips to the veterinarian. Happy fall everyone!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian as they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.