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Fall Pet Threats: Autumn Brings Some Unique Health Dangers


Fall can be a great time for pets and their owners but a little caution is neededto avoid some dangers that may not be obvious.
Fall is a beautiful time of year throughout the country.

The weather is finally cooling off, in many areas leaves begin to change and it’s great to be outside.

But even during this beautiful time of year, there are some dangers to your dog, cat or other pet. These threats are not necessarily abundant, but they are in some ways worse because they are easy to overlook.

Because temperatures are starting to drop, fall is the season for mice and other pests to start moving indoors. You or a neighbor may start using poisons to keep them at bay. Again, small amounts can prove dangerous, even fatal for your pet. Use caution and be alert to odd behavior that might signal a reaction.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, contact your vet quickly or call the ASPCA animal poison hotline, (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

Fall is also likely to bring the danger of antifreeze, which is extremely toxic to pets. It’s also said to have a sweet taste that easily attracts animals that can then suffer serious sickness or death if they ingest even small amounts. If you or a neighbor is likely to top off or flush your auto coolant, make sure you are careful with spills. Again, it’s better to be cautious and contact your vet or a poison hotline if there are signs of possible poisoning.

Other fall threats may occur depending on where you live or take your pet. Rural areas or even suburbs spreading into the countryside can bring hunting seasons and natural predators that may be a surprise. Especially for people moving into such an area for the first time, these can be unexpected but very serious dangers that can literally reach the back door.

Especially for small dogs or cats, predators like coyotes, bobcats or larger animals are a very real threat. Even a large, nearby park can be home to coyotes, foxes and bobcats. Dogs have been taken even while on a leash. Do a little research to learn if this is a possibility in your area. If it is, consider a protective vest or collar with spikes and bristles that make it hard for a predator to chomp down. Again, fall is not unique for this except that encroaching darkness favors these predators, who often hunt at night.

Human hunters can also be a danger, so be alert to hunting seasons in your area. Again, this may be especially true if you reside in a suburb near open country or in rural areas. It’s also possible if you walk in parks or wildlife areas and forests where hunting is legal. Most hunters are responsible, but a brown dog dashing through forest can look a lot like a deer, at least initially.

Even in urban areas, the increasing darkness of fall can be a problem for both you and your pet. As summer ends, morning comes later and night earlier. If you are walking your dog, it’s easy not to realize that this slow but steady progression may make you and your pet hard to see while you are crossing a street or walking next to a roadway.

Fall is also the season for pollens and other irritants that can cause allergies in some pets, just like in humans. If your pet is showing signs such as licking, biting, hair loss, red or itchy skin, consider allergies as a possibility that might be worth consulting your veterinarian.

Another surprise involves fall shedding. Less known than spring or summer shedding, some pets do lose some of their lighter summer fur to make way for a thicker winter coat. Fortunately, the same solution that worked last spring will work well now: frequent brushing to help reduce loose hair on your pet that could cause choking (especially in cats) and create a mess in your home.