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Unusual Fall and Winter Pet Dangers to Avoid

Mushrooms are among the fall pet threats that are easy to overlook but can bring poentially serious problems for your pet.
Fall can be such a beautiful time of year that it’s difficult to think the season could hold any danger for you or, even more surprisingly, your pets.

But fall does have some very special pet threats that can literally be life threatening.

One of the most surprising involves antifreeze. Although it’s been well documented, components in most forms of automobile antifreeze can be fatal to pets. Worst of all, the taste is also said to be attractive to pets, increasing the likelihood they will lap up as much as they can.

Fall is the worst time for this danger because many do-it-yourself mechanics will either top off or even drain and refill their auto cooling systems. This is great, but it’s also very possible for your pet to find some on his or her travels. Many reports estimate that up to 10,000 pets are poisoned by antifreeze every year!

The symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include your pet acting like it has gotten into your liquor cabinet: Drunken behavior, wobbliness or uncoordinated movement, nausea or vomiting, excessive urination or diarrhea, and more. 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.

Growing in Your Backyard

Here’s a surprise: all mushrooms are toxic to dogs and many are poisonous to cats. It’s a good idea to watch for mushrooms in areas where you walk your pets or where they run and play. Although mushrooms can grow any time of year, especially following wet weather, they can proliferate in the fall because cooler temperatures tend to prolong wetness that mushrooms love. Although there are almost unlimited types of mushrooms, be especially cautious of parasol-shaped mushrooms and all small brown mushrooms.

Mushroom poisoning can bring symptoms that range from mild vomiting and diarrhea to severe digestive problems or even complete liver failure. Again, the best advice is to contact your veterinarian or the poison hotline.

The compost pile in your backyard is a similar issue, lying somewhere between antifreeze and mushrooms. While you may rgubj those decomposing leaves and other organic material are safe, they could contain toxins that can harm your pet. Symptoms include excessive panting or drooling, hyperthermia, agitation, and even seizures.

Creaky Joints

Another threat that may surprise you also involves cooler fall weather: arthritis. Just as for humans, cool damp weather can bring stiffness and soreness to pets by inflaming joints. Your pet may be suffering from seasonal arthritis if he or she is limping, jumping, having trouble moving or sitting, is moving slower than normal, or whimpering when he or she moves.

While there are supplements and treatments that can help, you may again want to consult with your veterinarian if you see pet behavior indicating arthritis. You might also try some easy initial steps: a little exercise and making sure the pet stays warm and dry, especially when at rest or sleeping. As in humans, a little exercise helps increase circulation and muscle movement that can help reduce arthritic symptoms. And sleeping in a damp or cool location would definitely make things worse for your pet, just as it would for you.

Similar issues involve allergies. Fall weather often brings pollen, mold and other irritants that can trouble your pet, just as they do some humans. Keep an eye out for scratching, biting, chewing, watery eyes, coughing or sneezing as well as hives and/or rashes.

Fortunately, these threats are relatively rare. Being observant and simply know what to look for is the best first step to have a safe and enjoyable fall season for you and your pet.