10 Autumn Dog Dangers to Avoid
It’s officially fall — the days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing and the air is getting crisper. But don’t let the beautiful foliage fool you — there are dangers lurking both inside and outside for your dog. Here are some tips to keep your hound safe during this time of year.
1. BACKYARD PERILS
Hidden hazards wait just outside your back door. Piles of leaves can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. They can also contain sticks that could do damage to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract if swallowed. Additionally, fall leaf piles may contain traces of toxic plant matter. Not to mention creepy crawlies like fleas, ticks, mites and snakes that love to hide out in leaf piles. It is best to rake and remove leaves from your property and prevent your dog from rooting around in old leaves during fall outings.
You also want to keep pets away from compost piles, as these may contain decomposing mycotoxins, which can cause seizures if ingested.
Oak trees shed acorns each fall along with their leaves. Acorn seeds contain tannic acid which causes digestive upset, and in extreme cases, liver and kidney damage. Signs of tannic acid poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. Another outdoor hazard is chestnuts (aka “conkers”), which fall from horse chestnut trees. Chestnuts are highly poisonous if chewed or eaten and are also dangerous if swallowed whole by dogs because they may cause a serious blockage. Gardeners should also be careful when planting daffodil or tulip bulbs in the yard, as these are also highly toxic if eaten.
Products like rodenticides are also fatal to pets. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you fear your Greyhound may have ingested any poisons.
Mushrooms make a comeback during the chillier months, and while 99 percent are not toxic, the remaining 1 percent are highly toxic and life-threatening if eaten. Because it’s so difficult to distinguish toxic mushrooms from non-toxic ones, a best practice is to keep your dog away from all mushrooms. Signs of mushroom poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, slow heart rate, respiratory problems, liver/kidney damage, or neurological symptoms depending on the type of mushroom and the amount ingested. If you do see your dog eating a mushroom, the ASPCA recommends you immediately contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Chrysanthemums are a popular and colorful fall flower that contains pyrethrins, chemicals considered mildly toxic to dogs. The severity of symptoms depends on how much the dog eats, and include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and wobbliness. Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe may also make pets sick. Keep all holiday plants far out of reach of pets and call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog ate something they shouldn’t have.
Cooler weather does not mean that fleas and ticks magically disappear. Disease-carrying parasites are tricky and can hide out in your home and yard just waiting for a host. Fleas are an itchy nightmare and can infect your dog with tapeworms. Infected ticks can pass on Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and more. And don’t forget mosquitoes. Depending on where you live, they are a problem well into the autumn months so your dog is still at risk for heartworm disease. Make sure to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for flea, tick, and heartworm prevention all year-round.
Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste and our pets love to lick it. Antifreeze is extremely dangerous if ingested and is one of the most common forms of poisoning in pets. As little as one tablespoon or two for dogs, depending on the size of animal, can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy. If there is any chance your dog drank antifreeze, head to the vet immediately! Ethylene glycol poisoning causes acute kidney failure and time is of the essence to save your pup’s life.
Inside the home, as you’re bringing your sweaters and winter wardrobe out of storage, beware of mothballs, as they are toxic to animals if ingested. Mothballs contain a high concentration of the insecticides napthalene, paradichlorobenzebe (PDB), or camphor – all of which are toxic to dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting and lethargy, or even life-threatening issues like anemia or liver and kidney damage. They also pose a choking or intestinal blockage hazard if swallowed. If you use mothballs and catch your pup with one in his or her mouth, call your vet immediately.
7. CANDLES & POTPOURRI
Fall scents make the season, and candles, liquid potpourris and essential oils are excellent ways to bring the crisp aromas of autumn into your home. Unfortunately, many of these products can also be dangerous for dogs, including: Oil of Cinnamon, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Pine, Sweet Birch, Tea Tree (Melaleuca), Wintergreen, or Ylang Ylang.
Ingestion of these chemicals can damage the liver, especially in puppies, senior dogs, and those with pre-existing liver problems. Liquid potpourris and some essential oils can also cause irritation and burns to the skin and mouth. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, difficulty walking, drooling, vomiting, muscle tremors, pawing at the mouth, or burns on the lips, gums, tongue, or skin. If you believe your dog is suffering from a reaction to essential oils or liquid potpourri, call your veterinarian immediately.
Most scented candles are made from paraffin wax, soy, or beeswax, none of which are toxic to dogs. However, depending on which fragrance is used and how much is ingested, you could run into the same problems as above.
There is also a chance that boisterous dogs will knock candles over or burn themselves if candles are left within reach. To protect your pooch, choose natural, pet-safe scents, keep candles well out of reach on steady surfaces, and never leave them burning when you are not in the same room.
The change of seasons can also trigger allergies for dogs, just as it does for humans. Dust, grass, ragweed, and mold are common culprits. These allergies can take the form of skin rashes, coughing or sneezing and clear discharge from your dog’s nose. Your veterinarian can diagnose and prescribe antihistamines or other therapy to make your dog more comfortable.
9. DANGEROUS FALL FOODS
Chocolate sales rise around Halloween but remember it contains a stimulant called theobromine that’s poisonous to dogs. The amount of theobromine differs depending on the type of chocolate — dark chocolate has the most in it. Baker’s Chocolate and Cocoa Powder are incredibly concentrated and they contain high levels of theobromine. Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. Signs will occur from 4-24 hours following ingestion and you may see vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, rapid breathing, muscle tension, incoordination, increased heart rate and seizures.
Corn Cobs - Corn is a fall staple in cooking and decorating. Many dogs love to chew on the firm-but-yielding cob for a taste of the sweet kernels and the pleasing texture. Unfortunately, swallowing large chunks of cob can lead to choking, gastrointestinal injuries, and life-threatening obstructions.
Apple Seeds - Apples are another iconic symbol of fall and a favorite in autumn recipes, but did you know that the seeds contain the toxin cyanide? In fact, cyanide can be found in all parts of the apple plant except the flesh of the fruit itself. Keep dogs away from fallen apples (including crab apples) this fall. The toxicity is low, but enough cyanide can affect the body’s ability to transport and use oxygen resulting in difficulty breathing, shock, and even death.
Macadamia Nuts - What makes macadamia nuts dangerous for dogs is unknown, but even a few can be incredibly toxic causing vomiting and neurological symptoms.
Raisins - Like macadamia nuts, vets aren’t sure why some dogs suffer acute kidney failure when they eat grapes and raisins.
Cooked Bones - Fall football parties are the perfect time for hot wings and autumn festivals often serve massive turkey legs. These treats are fine for humans, but the splintery bones are dangerous for your pooch. Cooked bone shards can cause choking and serious damage to your dog’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract. Be especially careful to keep garbage out of the reach of your Greyhound.
Onions & Garlic - So many of our favorite fall recipes include onions and other root vegetables from the Allium genus like shallots, leeks, and chives, not to mention garlic. While your dog would have to ingest very large quantities to become ill, it is best to avoid sharing foods made with onions with your dog.
Alcohol – Social occasions frequently include alcoholic beverages, but even a small amount of alcohol – including that in syrups and raw bread dough – can depress your dog’s nervous system and damage the kidneys. If your dog consumes alcohol, you may see signs including vomiting, disorientation, difficulty urinating, and dehydration. Other more serious signs include collapse and seizures. If left untreated, alcohol intoxication could result in organ failure and death so seek vet care immediately.
10. COLDER WEATHER AND SHORTER DAYS
Fall brings cool—and in some parts of the country, downright cold—weather. Greyhounds, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds and others with short-hair coats may need a sweater or jacket to keep warm. Pet parents should also look out for older dogs with compromised immune systems and dogs with endocrine issues. Colder temperatures can also exacerbate arthritis in some pets. Talk to your veterinarian if you notice your pet showing signs of discomfort, such as reluctance to exercise, limping, or whining when moving.
There’s less daylight now and many of us are walking our dogs at dusk or in the dark once we get home from work. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to dress your dog in some reflective gear — especially if you walk your pooch by a busy road. A lighted collar or a reflective dog vest with LED lights will help keep your pup visible.
Next week we’ll look at some dangers unique to Halloween. Stay safe!
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