Personally, I love autumn. The days are usually crisp and clear with plenty of sunshine, while the nights are cooler. The gorgeous colours of leaves as they change colour create some magnificent scenery, but amongst all this beauty there are some things that may pose a risk to your pet.
Here we discuss the top dangers for pets in autumn and provide some tips to help keep your pet safe during the autumn months.
Dangers of Acorns and Conkers for Pets
Although cases of serious poisoning are rare – ingestion can cause marked gastrointestinal signs such as drooling, retching, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Many dogs and even cats (I’ve seen cats ingest acorns!) love to play with these and ingestion can lead to the very real risk of intestinal blockage.
Exposure to acorns can result in poisoning due to tannic acid. This can cause damage to the kidneys and liver if left untreated.
If your pet has been playing with acorns or conkers and suddenly starts vomiting, develops diarrhoea and/or appears uncomfortable, lethargic and goes off their food, please get in touch.
Anticoagulant Rodenticides Are Poisonous to Dogs and Cats
Autumn is the time when we often lay baits to kill rat and mice plagues.
Most, but not all, rodenticides contain anti-coagulant compounds that interfere with a rat’s ability to clot its own blood. Unfortunately, this happens in cats and dogs as well as rats.
When your pet consumes rat bait the effects may be delayed for several days.
Occasionally the first signs you may notice are blue or green faeces due to the dye used in the product.
Because these anticoagulant rodenticides cause internal bleeding, a poisoning victim will show weakness and pallor (white gums), and perhaps some bruising on their body, but external bleeding will not likely be obvious.
Sometimes you might notice blood in the urine, or a bleeding nose or gums.
The time of exposure determines the type of treatment that your dog will have.
Blood-clotting (coagulation) tests are often needed to determine if a dog is at risk of developing problems. These are often repeated in 72 hours if it was a small exposure that was quickly decontaminated.
Treatment can consist of induction of vomiting and/or an enema if ingestion was recent.
Because these products preventing blood clotting, treatment involves giving an antidote such as Vitamin K and in severe cases transfusions of plasma or whole blood.
Treatment with Vitamin K can be prolonged (up to 6 weeks) as it takes a long time for the blood to regain clotting ability.
Wild Mushrooms Can Be Poisonous
Wild mushrooms are commonly seen growing at this time of year.
Many of these are poisonous and it is difficult to know exactly what the mode of action might be. For this reason, it is important that you present your pet to an emergency vet as soon as possible so that decontamination can occur.
Compost Can Be Dangerous
Do it yourself composting is an excellent way of returning nutrients to your garden, however, it is also a source of mycotoxins that are dangerous to your pet.
Mycotoxins cause a variety of symptoms:
Often the first signs are vomiting and tremors.
If your pet shows these symptoms you need to get them to a veterinarian so that decontamination can start.
Your vet will also ensure that tremors are stopped and your pet’s temperature is maintained at normal. Failure to do so can result in seizure and death.
Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs
Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs. The amount of theobromine differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it). Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys.
Signs will occur from 4-24hours following ingestion and will vary depending on the amount of chocolate (theobromine) your dog has eaten. You may see vomiting (may include blood), diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity, rapid breathing, muscle tension, incoordination, increased heart rate and seizures.
Treatment relies on decontamination by inducing vomiting, in some cases fluid therapy and activated charcoal to mop up any chocolate passing through.
Grapes and Raisins Are Poisonous
The toxic substance that is contained within grapes and raisins is unknown; however, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Pets that already have certain health problems may
have an even more serious reaction so this is certainly one to avoid.
Food and Exercise
With fewer daylight hours and cold, wet weather you may find that your dog does not get as much exercise as he does in the summer. It is a good idea to monitor his weight and food intake, as you may need to reduce the amount of food you give your dog, to stop him putting on weight over the winter.
If you are walking in low light or darkness consider a fluorescent jacket and/or collar. You could also attach a flashing light to your dog’s collar to make him easier to spot.
Ensure he is wearing an identification disc and we strongly recommend a microchip (with up to date contact details) to increase the chances of being reunited should your dog go missing.