The onset of fall brings beautiful fall colours but also some hazards for dogs.
Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe over the fall season:
In many areas, it is legal to hunt certain species of animals in the fall. Keep your dog safe by avoiding the areas where hunting is allowed. To be extra safe, ensure that your dog is visible by dressing him in a high visibility vest.
Fall is also mushroom season and many mushrooms are toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has ingested mushrooms, take the dog and, if possible, a sample of the suspected mushroom (contained in a paper bag or paper towel) to a veterinarian immediately. Clear mushrooms from areas, like the yard, that your dogs frequent.
The Amanita species of mushroom are the most commonly documented cause of fatal mushroom poisoning in dogs (Rhian B.Cope, 2007). Types of toxic “false morel” mushrooms can be found in areas dogs frequent and ingestion requires prompt and aggressive treatment by a veterinarian or it will be fatal. Sometimes dogs ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms and these dogs always require rapid decontamination and monitoring by a veterinarian (Means, 2000).
It’s often difficult to identify mushrooms by sight so treat any ingestion of mushrooms as toxic. Some symptoms of mushroom poisoning are depression, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation and tear production. Pupils can be very small and constricted. Other symptoms include bradycardia (a very slow heartbeat), lethargy, liver damage, hallucinations, seizures (due to liver damage) and muscle tremors.
Rodenticides are also poisonous to dogs. In the fall as the weather cools, rodents seek warm spots to move to. These can be buildings and sometimes people use rat and mouse poisons in those areas and dogs can ingest them through consuming the bait or a dead rodent or through deliberate poisoning. Poisoning symptoms depend on the type of rodenticide. Symptoms of ingestion of those that are the anti-coagulant type (such as Warfarin) include disinterest in food and depression and can include lack of coordination, tarry stools, blood in the urine, nosebleeds, weakness, difficulty breathing or panting.
Other poisons such as Bromethalin are neurotoxins and symptoms can include hyperexcitability, muscle tremors, seizures, depression of the central nervous system, exaggerated hind leg reflexes and vomiting. There are other rodenticides on the market which, if ingested, will also cause the victim to have stomach upset, depression, renal failure, cardiac issues, tremors and muscle spasms. All are an emergency and require veterinary attention as soon as possible (The Merck Veterinary Manual, 1998).
As people prepare vehicles for the winter, ethylene glycol poisoning becomes a hazard for all animals and for dogs (and cats) in particular. Antifreeze is widely available, tastes sweet and has a minimal lethal dose, is often improperly stored and disposed of making it a hazard for animals in temperate and colder climates. Affected pets generally show immediate clinical signs like vomiting, sudden increase in thirst and urination, depression of the central nervous system, stupor, decreased reflexes and lack of coordination. Renal failure can follow. Any pet suspected of ingesting antifreeze should immediately be seen by a veterinarian as prognosis for recovery is best with immediate treatment and varies inversely with the amount of time lapsing between ingestion and treatment. Prognosis for pets with renal failure from antifreeze poisoning is poor (The Merck Veterinary Manual, 1998).
Finally, fall events like Halloween, can be hazardous to dogs. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs (poisoning symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, accelerated breathing and heart rate and sometimes seizures. Some dogs are afraid of fireworks so keeping them inside prevents dogs from running off at the sound of fireworks.
The sound and sight of trick-or-treaters repeatedly appearing at the front door can be stressful for some dogs and some dogs may become territorial so containing dogs in another part of the house can reduce their anxiety and prevents a pet from running out the front door.
Jack-o-lanterns are a hazard if they have a burning candle inside so keep those well out of the way of pets.
Have fun and stay safe this fall!
Jane Bowers, B.A., CABC, CPDT-KA
Jane Bowers has been training dogs for over two decades. She teaches people to train their dogs in group and private training courses and has a keen interest in assisting dogs with behavioral issues. Her company is Dogs of Distinction Canine Training Inc. Jane has a monthly newspaper column on dog related topics and is a former host of a live call in TV show on animals. She is a strong advocate for force free and humane training methods for all animals.
Jane has a degree in psychology and is certified as a dog trainer through the Certification Council of Professional Pet Dog Trainers and as a behaviour consultant through the International Association of Behavior Consultants and through the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals. These organizations require a minimum number of continuing education units be obtained to retain certification. She is also a professional member of The Pet Professional Guild, an organization committed to force free training of animals and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. a professional organization of individual trainers who are committed to being better trainers through education.
Jane is the content creator of the online course Assessing and Interpreting Dog Behaviour, which is a course for law enforcement personnel who meet unfamiliar dogs in the course of their duties. She is the author of Perfect Puppy Parenting, a guide to raising a happy, confident, well-behaved dog.
Jane spent 17 years working for Customs Border Services and in joint teams with US Homeland Security and the RCMP. She spent a further 8 years working as an Animal Control Officer and Bylaw Enforcement Officer.
Jane lives on a small farm with dogs, sheep, donkeys, and chickens. The dogs each came from situations that prevented them from living in their original homes. The dogs range in size and age and with the dog training and behavioral work, whether it’s participating in the development of an online training course, working with a client’s dog or tracking a lost pet or animal.