Today in honor of National Animal Safety + Protection Month, I thought I'd share 19 Fall Safety Tips to keep your fur-kids safe as our Fall weather settles in!
1. Beware of anti-freeze! While fall is a great time to change your car’s engine coolant, but be careful because most coolants are highly toxic to pets. Ingesting antifreeze is lethal. Unfortunately, both cats and dogs find the smell of it enticing. Make sure to check your car for leaks and make sure all bottles are stored far away from your pets. Clean up any spills immediately, keep any remaining new coolant out of reach, and dispose of used coolant. Additionally, try to consider switching to a propylene glycol-based coolant. While it's not completely non-toxic, it's significantly less toxic than other engine coolants
2. Don’t leave your pets outside for prolonged periods of time. While we love being outdoors enjoying the cool weather and beautiful colors, sometimes we forget our fur-kids can get extra cold this time of year, even with a lack of snow and ice.
3. Beware of ticks. It’s still tick season and playing in the cool autumn leaves and hiking one of the great trails we have here are some of the many ways your pooch could get them. Consider using a natural tick repellent to help protect your pet.
4. Let em’ have their fur coat. If you have a dog that you shave during the summer, let him start growing his coat back in the fall. Just like you need your Fall/Winter coat he’ll need his too. As the weather gets colder, some pets might need a little help staying warm when they go outside. Whether it’s a sweater or a rain jacket, check out your local pet store for supplies and make sure whatever you’re buying for your little one fits properly. If you’re in an area that experiences ice and snow, consider getting your pups some shoes so that the pads of their feet are protected from the cold, and any salt or de-icing products that may be used in your neighborhood. For cats, you might want to limit their time outdoors overall.
5. The changing of seasons is a great time to remember to check your pet ID tags and microchips. Just take 5 minutes to make sure all your pet’s information is up to date and in proper order. In addition, make sure you have copies of your pet’s paperwork and information in your emergency kits, as well as a current photograph (if you can get one with you in it as well, that’s a big help with reunification!). Photos don't have to be professionally done, but be sure you have some that clearly show their face, body, and any unique identifying features.
6. While this one may not apply to everyone this year with Covid, it is one to keep in mind for the future. When you're making holiday arrangements, check with your dog walker, pet sitter, or doggy daycare NOW. As the holidays approach, most of us will get busier and possibly have to travel. Take time out and plan ahead so you can make the holidays easier on your pets.
7. Fall celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Halloween, often mean people coming over to visit your home. If you have a pet that has special needs or is wary of new people, be sure to tell your guests about your pet before they come over. Make sure they have a safe space to relax in that people are not in and that your guests know the rules for Fido. This will help keep everyone feeling happy and a little less stressed over the holiday celebrations that come over both Fall + Winter.
8.Make sure your pets can’t escape through the main entrance of your home. This is especially important if you plan on having several guests in and out of the house this holiday season. It's always easy for a good escape artist to nip out as Uncle Harry is coming inside or Aunt Petunia heads out to get just one thing quickly from the car and forgets to close the door behind herself. It may be worth investing in a baby gate or creating some kind of barrier between the door and your pet, or even having a safe and relaxing space they can stay in while your guests are over.
9. Be careful with decorations. Many shiny new decorations look like really fun toys to your pets. Make sure decorations are out of reach because many of them contain toxic metals, can become choking hazards, contain plants that are toxic, are made of glass that can break, or have wires that are extra enticing for them to chew or bat at.
10. No tricks, no treats It’s best to keep your cat or dog on their regular diet during the holidays. Keep Halloween candy and Thanksgiving foods out of their reach. Chocolate and candy with Xylitol, like sugar-free gum, will make your pet very sick. Check with your veterinarian who knows your pet if a little white meat turkey is a safe snack. Halloween is the start of the “season” for chocolate-related illnesses, most commonly chocolate toxicity. However, keep it in mind over the Winter Holidays as well as people are visiting and chocolates and goodies abound in your home.
11. Did you know that dogs get the flu too! Canine flu and bordetella, or “kennel cough,” are both airborne diseases. If you see a dog that is coughing, be sure to keep your own dog away and avoid touching the ill dog. If your dog develops a cough or high fever, contact your veterinarian immediately. Kennel cough is highly contagious and can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from dry cough for a couple of days, to fever, anorexia, severe pneumonia, and death. Keep your dog away from other dogs when coughing for at least a week after you hear the last cough. Additionally, our fur-kids can also have allergies, just like us. They may also react to pollen, dust, or other allergens. Pet allergy symptoms can be similar to ours — sneezing or coughing, runny nose, itchy skin, ear infection, and itchy, red, or watery eyes. If you think your pet might be suffering from allergies, call your veterinarian to discuss testing and treatment plans best suited for your pet’s needs.
12. Holiday stress isn’t just for humans Lots of unfamiliar faces and loud talking and laughter can stress your pet out. Before everyone comes over, be sure to exercise your dog and maybe give them a special chew toy to keep them distracted. If they still seem stressed, put them in a quiet room away from all of the commotion. Be sure cats have access to a quiet room where they will probably hide all on their own
13. Halloween is one of the most fun events for humans, but it’s rarely the case for pets, especially when there are fireworks involved, and with the holidays on their way, you may have a busy house overall with guests and family arriving regularly. Both scenarios can be stressful for pets, whether it’s the loud noises, or simply a large number of people in their home. Try to stick with your regular routine as much as possible, ensure your pet gets lots of exercises, and keep toys around for positive distractions. Even the most sociable of pets can get overwhelmed this time of year, so make sure that they have a quiet, safe space to go if the stress gets too much.
14. Keep pests out As the weather turns cooler in fall, rats and mice may decide that your house would be a great place to stay warm and dry. Be mindful of how you prevent these pests from entering your home. To keep them out, close up any entry holes and choose anti-rodent products that are nontoxic. Rodenticides are extremely toxic to dogs and cats as well as local wildlife, so it is best to discuss a safe control plan with a professional exterminator and your veterinarian if you're not sure what precautions can safely be made.
14. For those who have kids that are back in school, make sure you keep items like pencils, markers, and glue sticks out of your pet’s reach. If they decide the new school supplies would make great snacks, they might get gastrointestinal upset or blockages. Cats are more likely to bite the edges of notebooks and paper.
15. Watch for Wildlife! Snakes get grumpy as they’re preparing to hibernate, and don’t take kindly to being disturbed by curious cats or dogs. To protect your pets from venomous snake bites, know which snakes are poisonous and where they usually hibernate. Walk your dog (or cat) on a leash away from those areas. If your pet does get bitten, go to your veterinarian immediately. Don't forget that while we’re enjoying our Fall foods over the holidays, many animals are doing so too as they get ready to hibernate for the winter. Animals of all sizes prepare for their winter sleep by foraging for food, and this may mean that we’ll cross paths with the likes of raccoons, skunks, rodents, and even bears! Whether you’re out for a walk in the woods or simply enjoying your own back yard, keep your eyes peeled for these wild critters, and keep a safe distance if you spot them. Keep your dogs close (even if they’re off-leash) and if you’re big into hiking, consider attaching a bell to your dog’s harness or collar – making noise means you’re less likely to stumble upon, and a surprise or scare bigger animals like bears. Let's keep us, our fur-kids, AND our local wildlife safe.
16. Fall also means it's Mushroom season so be sure to keep your pets from eating mushrooms that pop up on lawns, under trees, in fields, and on logs. While some won’t make your pet sick, a few are deadly. If your pet accidentally eats one, especially if they seem to have a reaction to it, or you know the mushroom is toxic, go to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
18.It’s starting to get darker sooner! So make sure if our walking your pets to have them clearly visible to traffic and passerby. Consider using reflective material in the collar or leash of your pet and don't forget some reflective gear for yourself too so you're both easily visible to traffic.
19. Fall also means copious amounts of rain! So creeks and streams may be at a higher level than normal. Be cautious and maintain care and control at all times to ensure your pet is safe.