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Autumn Awareness: How to Keep Your Pet Safe This Fall

Fall brings a welcome reprieve from the scorching summer sun, but the cool weather can also bring health risks for your pets. Make sure to take special precautions with regards to the following hazards.

Rat Poison Peril: The use of rodenticides increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets—if ingested, the results could be fatal. If you must use these products, do so with extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets.

Fatal Fungus: Fall and spring are mushroom seasons. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, most of the highly toxic mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from the nontoxic ones. The best way to keep pets from ingesting poisonous mushrooms is to keep them away from areas where any mushrooms are growing. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately if you witness your pet eating a wild mushroom.

Winter Weight Watch: In order to generate body heat, pets who exercise heavily outdoors, or who live outdoors, should be given more food during colder seasons.  On the contrary, if your dog stays indoors primarily and exercises less in the colder months you should feed a little less to prevent weight gain.

Surly Serpents:  Autumn is the season when snakes who are preparing for hibernation may be particularly “grumpy,” increasing the possibility of severe bites to those unlucky pups who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. The best way to avoid snakes around the home is to keep the outside environment clear of debris such as yard waste, wood piles or building supplies - these areas create a nice habitat for snakes and their prey.  If you are hiking, keep your dog on a short leash to keep better control of where they put their nose.

Anti-freeze Anxiety: Many people choose fall as the time to change their car’s engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so spills should be cleaned up immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants—though they aren’t completely nontoxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.