Common Fall Pet Hazards

While we’re busy seeding the yard, buying Halloween candy, and planning Thanksgiving dinner, we don’t often think of the potential hazards lurking for our pets.  Here we have outlined some of the more common pet hazards associated with fall.  Please contact your veterinarian if you are concerned your pet has encountered these hazards or is experiencing any other health problems.

Knowing what these hazards are and taking precautions to avoid them can be the difference between life and death.

Antifreeze: Most radiator antifreeze/coolant contains ethylene glycol and is highly toxic. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by children and animals. Five teaspoons can kill a 10-pound dog, less will kill a cat. It is very fast acting and results in kidney failure and death in as little as four to eight hours. Newer products that contain propylene glycol are generally considered safe.  Store antifreeze in its original container, out of reach of pets and children. Keep the empty container or a record of the product used so that if your car leaks and your pet finds it before you do, you can tell your veterinarian what was consumed. Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway. Always have plenty of fresh water available for your pet. A thirsty pet may relieve its thirst with antifreeze that a neighbor left out or hosed down the driveway. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, call your veterinarian right away.

Rodenticides: Poison meant to kill rats and mice hoping to winter in your home can also kill your pet.  They cause severe bleeding, kidney failure, and death. There are no safe rodenticides. Whether out of hunger, boredom, or curiosity, pets will consume these products. If rodenticides are used in your home, put them in places inaccessible to pets and children. Keep a record of the product used and in case of accidental poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate: Chocolate is a favorite people-treat at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas but it is toxic to dogs and cats. The initial signs of chocolate poisoning are those of stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. If sufficient chocolate is consumed, an animal will become restless and uncoordinated and will suffer heart failure and/or respiratory failure. As little as one ounce of baking chocolate or eight ounces of milk chocolate can kill a 10-pound dog. Like other poisonings, chocolate poisoning requires emergency medical treatment.

Thanksgiving dinner: Rich foods can cause sudden pancreatitis or bloat. Keep holiday meals, leftovers, and table scraps out of reach of your pet. Bones from turkey can also get stuck in the digestive track, or worse pierce a section of the bowel.  If your pet insists on participating in the feast, cooked vegetables (without the butter and salt) or commercial dog treats are safe in small amounts.

Cold weather: Indoor pets not acclimated to winter temperatures should not be left outside in cold weather for long periods. Ice or salt can cause severe irritation when caught between your pet’s toes.

For more information on the care of pets, contact your local veterinarian.