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Fall Is Great For You and Your Pet – If You’re Careful


Fall brings a lot of beauty for us and our pets. It also can bring a few surprising dangers that can be avoided with a little care.
Fall is such a beautiful time of year, it’s difficult to connect it with dangers to ourselves or our pets.

Certainly, fall pet threats are sometimes subtle or not as obvious as bitter winter cold or searing summer heat. But they are nevertheless present and need to be considered.

The first is in the subtle category: waning daylight. 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.

Solutions are fairly easy and increasingly available. A reflective vest or blinking collar can help make both of you easier to see. Even on a hiking-biking trail, this precaution is a good idea. Getting hit by a 170-pound cyclist traveling 15 mph isn’t as bad as being struck by a car, but it’s something to be avoided.

Another set of threats is usually associated more with rural or undeveloped areas, but this is something of a misconception. Many of today’s subdivisions lie in areas that only a few years, or even months ago were farmland or pasture. While streets and houses may have “tamed” the area, no one may have told predators like foxes or coyotes that this is no longer their home. Likewise, no one told them your pet is not simply another source of food.

Especially for small dogs or cats, predation is a very real threat. Dogs have been taken even while on a leash so, if this is a possibility in your area, 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 usually hunt at night.

Speaking of hunters, be alert to hunting seasons in your area. Again, this may be especially true if you reside in a suburb near, 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.

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 litter your home.

A final warning involves a very human danger: poisons. Fall is especially apt 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 like to top off or flush your auto coolant, make sure you are careful with spills.

Likewise, fall is the season for mice and other pests to move indoors before winter and you may be bringing out poisons to keep them at bay. Again, small amounts can prove dangerous, even fatal for your pet so use caution.

Otherwise, enjoy fall!