by Dr. Fiona Lee, DVM
Ah, the crisp fall air, chilly mornings and early night-fall are clear indications that autumn has definitely arrived! Fall is a terrific time for family, as the days shorten and the holidays near. For many people ‘family’ includes the furry, four-legged members as well. And just as predictably as the leaves will change color, there are some changes that go hand in hand with the colder weather that you might consider in order to keep the whole family safe, happy and healthy this fall. Since accidents do happen, always have a pet insurance plan in place as a way to ensure your beloved pet has access to the best treatment available. Make sure to read on to learn about five fall hazards that your pet might run into!
Winterizing the family car often includes topping off antifreeze levels. Antifreeze actually tastes sweet to pets, and when left out or spilled, pets will readily ingest it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic, especially to cats, where even a small amount can be lethal. Always prevent your animal’s exposure to household chemicals, and especially antifreeze. If you are concerned your pet may have been exposed to antifreeze, immediate veterinary attention is warranted.
Sidewalk de-icers generally contain Chloride salts, calcium carbonate or magnesium acetate. If ingested in large quantities these calcium salts can cause gastrointestinal upset, potentially serious enough to warrant veterinary care. More commonly, problems are seen if the product is allowed to stay on the skin, as they can be severe skin irritants. The best option is avoidance. If your pet does come in contact with de-icers, rinse the paws with warm water and don’t allow licking.
3. Cold temperatures
Our pets are wonderful in the fact they never complain, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t uncomfortable in cold weather! Pets left in the cold can absolutely suffer from hypothermia, frostbite, and other potentially serious problems resulting from cold exposure. Be smart and limit exposure to the cold. If your pets are primarily outdoors, provide a heated shelter where they can get warm and escape the elements. When walking, be mindful of the cold on their feet. If tolerated, booties can help prevent ice exposure related injuries.
4. Holiday treats
Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are often marked ceremoniously with all our favorite foods. It can be very tempting to treat Fido while the others are feasting as well, but try to refrain from feeding foods he doesn’t usually eat. Rich and fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, a potentially serious gastrointestinal disorder. Chocolate, of course, is toxic to pets and can lead to serious illness or death when eaten. Dogs also shouldn’t eat macadamia nuts and onions, and never feed bones or carcasses to your dog, as bones can splinter and cause problems.
5. Rodenticide (Rat Poison)
Just as we all move inside when the cold weather hits, mice can do the same. Of course, seeing mice in the house can be disturbing, and it can be tempting to reach for rodenticide to get rid of them. Be very cautious though, the products are designed to be yummy, and dogs and cats will readily eat it. Rodenticides are extremely toxic to pets and will cause death if left untreated. It is possible for pets to recover if treatment is prompt. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your pet may have eaten poison left out for rodents.
by Dr. Fiona Lee, DVM