Okay, there I was, out on the internet looking for fun Fall things to do when I came across the following.  I thought Fall could be a fun time with my dog… cooler weather, fun “dog festival-type” stuff, dog parks teeming with potential playmates, etcetera.  Well, it IS all of that but apparently it’s also a time for real concern about certain things I never even thought of; like rat poison, mushrooms, decorations and anti-freeze!  Sounds like Fall is perhaps a good time to have your local Boca Raton veterinarian’s phone number on speed dial!

So, why do we need to be so cautious with our pets come Fall? Well, to sum up according to PetHealthNetwork.com, “when it comes to keeping your pet healthy and helping him enjoy fall to the fullest, there are some things to keep in mind.”

#1. Watch out for ticks in fall
According to PetHealthNetwork, ticks can still be a real problem, even as the cooler weather descends upon us. In fact. According to a study by the University of Rhode Island, many species of ticks remain active even into the winter.  So… don’t let Fido play in the leaf piles (they’re a favorite tick “hang out,” continue to give your dog flea and tick protection, and importantly, bring your pet to see his or her local pet care specialist on a regular basis for tick-borne infection screenings.  If your pet should be bitten, the chances of a problematic infection are greatly reduced if you “catch it early.”

#2. Beware rat poison and other rodenticides
Here’s another caution from PetHealthNetwork that took me completely by surprise.  Pesticides.  “Fall is the time of year when mice, rats, and other rodents start to scurry for warmth”. Okay, we all know that, right?  Yes, but does it also occur to you – as it DIDN’T at first with me – that this is a time when folks put our pesticides and poisons?  Well, it CAN be a real problem.  As rodents look for warmer places to live, i.e., your home, as well as your neighbor’s, the use of poisons and pesticides increases.  These are deadly, as you can well imagine. Not only are the poisons themselves dangerous, but so are the corpses of animals killed by them.  If you dog gnaws on a dead rat, he or she could suffer the same fate as the dead animal. Your local vet can tell you right away if your pet has ingested any poisonous substances.  Also, if you intend to use pesticides or rodenticides in or around  your home, look for those that are “safe for pets.” There are some out there.

#3. There is a fungus amongus!
While delicious on a medium rare ribeye right off the grill on a Fall afternoon, mushrooms are NOT for dogs. Fall can bring frequent showers and with them, toxic mushrooms. If your dog enjoys the Great Outdoors, know that if he or she ingests a toxic mushroom, he or she could be in a great deal of trouble.  For a list of toxic mushrooms, visit the ASPCA website.  If you see your dog eat a mushroom, of any kind (unless you happen to be a toxic mushroom expert), get thee to your Boca Raton veterinarian immediately!  NOTE:  If possible, bring an undigested piece of the mushroom to your vet for easier identification.

#4. Watch out for antifreeze toxicity
Don’t give your pet any ethylene glycol and don’t let him or her hang around the local auto repair shop unsupervised.  In preparing for the winter months ahead, people tend to use fall to winterize their cars. This often involves changing fluids such as antifreeze, which can be deadly for pets. Consider this: one to two teaspoons of the stuff can kill a 10-pound dog! Less can kill a 10-pound cat. To add insult to injury, ethylene glycol, a key antifreeze ingredient, has a super sweet scent that entices pets (and even some humans, like myself) to slurp it up. A Grey Goose and Antifreeze cocktail may sound tasty, but beware.  If you even suspect that your pet has consumed some of this stuff, get to your vet immediately!

#6. Be careful with decorations
Okay, this was a pretty obvious one, even to me.  Now that the holidays are here, and with them, decorations that consist of small, sharp parts, make sure you keep these from your dog.  As you know, most dogs enjoy nothing more than eating something unfamiliar that they find on the ground. Eating strange objects can, of course, be dangerous and lead to foreign body obstruction. And that, of course, can lead to an expensive and highly invasive surgical procedure.  In short, keep those ornament hangers away from Fido!