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There is something comforting about the season of fall. Typically, many of us begin seeing leaves change into beautiful colors, and cooler temperatures become more common. Your pet probably welcomes the crisp Autumn air too, after the hot and humid “dog days” of summer.
However, the fall season can also bring out hidden dangers for our furry friends; colder temperatures, seasonal food, and household toxins that can all pose as potential safety threats to our pets.
As you and your family enjoy the season and transition to colder weather, be sure to keep your pets in mind and consider the following fall pet safety tips to ensure your pet stays healthy and safe all season long.
Back to school and work: Fall is the time of year that many students go back to school. The ASPCA is reminding students and parents to keep all school supplies out of the reach of curious paws. This year specifically, more people are attending school and working at home on a daily basis. This increases the likelihood of school (and office) supplies being left throughout the house6.
While most school supplies are not highly toxic to pets, it is still better to be safe than sorry. Chewing on batteries, Sharpies, markers, or glue can spell trouble for your furry friend. Be sure to check your surroundings and pick up anything that your pet could potentially reach.
Protect your pets from accidental escapes: Fall kicks off a busy time of year that often includes holiday celebrations. If you plan on having family in and out of your home this year, make sure your pet cannot escape through the main entrance. You may want to designate a sanctuary room for your pets. Make it a place where they feel most comfortable and keep them in there with some of their favorite toys when guests are arriving and leaving. You can also consider putting up a pet or baby gate between your pet and your front door.
Inform your guests about your pet: If your pet is afraid of other people or tends to be reactive to strangers in your home, you should share this with all prospective visitors. This way, if your furry friend attempts to make a run for it, your guests can be on the lookout and be more cautious when arriving and leaving.
Keep your pets hydrated: Fall temperatures tend to vary based on your location. One night you may be preparing for a frost advisory, while the next day can be reminiscent of early August. Just because the calendar says the season has changed doesn’t mean your furry family member should be drinking less. Remember to always fill water dishes with clean, freshwater frequently.
Don’t leave your pets outdoors for long periods: It may not be winter yet, but outdoor temperatures can get cold, particularly at night. If you feel cold, chances are your pet does too. Keep in mind that puppies, senior pets, smaller animals, and those who are immunocompromised have a hard time regulating their body temperature.
Dress your pets for the weather: If you live in a cold climate or you have a pet who struggles to stay warm outdoors, help him or her out by dressing them in appropriate clothing needed for your outing. You can check your local pet stores for jackets, rain jackets, or sweaters for your furry friend to wear to help keep them warm7.
Add an extra blanket to their bedding: We all like to add an extra blanket or comforter as the nights get chillier and our pets are no different. Dogs and cats can also benefit from a little extra insulation in their crates, beds, or wherever they like to get some rest.
Remember it is still tick season: Walking through fallen leaves or playing in piles of raked leaves is one way your pet can pick up ticks. Make sure you are still diligent about your furry friend’s preventative and tick repellent. Always be sure to check your pet for ticks after spending time outdoors.
Take care if using Rodenticides: The ASPCA reminds pet owners that the use of rat and mouse poisons increases during the fall. As temperatures dip, rodents try to seek a more comfortable environment by moving inside your home. It’s important to remember that rat and mouse poisons are highly toxic. If these poisons are ingested by your cat or dog, it can be deadly. If you must use these treatments, be sure that they are put in an area where they are out of paw’s reach8.
Safety hazards when cleaning up your yard for winter: Keep all lawn and garden products, as well as yard and compost waste, in secure containers so that your pet cannot access them9.
Remember, the days will get shorter, and your walks will get darker: The daylight will become shorter as we move further into the season. This means morning or late afternoon walks will become darker. Keep in mind that while you can see motorists, they may not see you and your pet. For the safety of you and your pet, always be aware of your surroundings and wear bright-colored clothing. Having your pet wear a reflective collar or harness is an important step to take to be sure that they can be seen by others and remain safe. When you can, try to take walks while there is still daylight.
Think safety first if you are dressing your pet in a costume: You can keep it simple and still be clever. Banfield Pet Hospital suggests trying a bandanna or decorative collar on your pet as opposed to a full-body costume. However, if your pet likes wearing a costume, make sure you choose something that fits properly and does not restrict his or her movement, hearing, or breathing.
Steer clear of costumes with dangling pieces or extra parts: Extra décor means more items for your pet to explore. We all know our pets explore with their mouths – so try to avoid costumes that have hanging fabric or buttons. Any extra pieces on a costume could pose a choking hazard or, if ingested, could cause a blockage.
Make sure your pet is visible if going out on Halloween night: If you plan to take your furry friend out with the kids on Halloween night, make sure he or she is wearing something reflective. If your pet is dressed up, look for a costume that reflects when light shines on it. Otherwise, a reflective collar or blinking lights will do the trick.
Think about Kitty before placing a jack-o’-lanterns and candles within reach: If you have a cat, you know how they love to chase moving objects or shadows. Make sure all real candles – even those inside jack-o’-lanterns – are far away from your four-legged family members.
Keep your black cat indoors for the Halloween festivities: Black cats have long been the objects of superstition. They have been considered bad luck, evil, and have even been associated with witchcraft. While black cats are no different than other cats, there has been more mistreatment of black kitties around the Halloween holiday. Some animal shelters choose not to adopt out black cats or kittens during the month of October to ensure their safety. Your safest option is to keep all cats indoors on Halloween night, as they can be difficult for passing motorists and pedestrians to see.
It’s important to always be aware of seasonal treats that might pose a threat to your furry friend. Fall is the beginning of the holiday season that are commonly filled with edible hazards for pets.
Some of these potential hazards10 include: chocolate, cooked bones, onions and garlic, alcoholic beverages, raw bread dough, and candy containing xylitol11, the artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Consider having a plan in place to keep potentially hazardous food out of your pet’s reach during the holiday season.
Remember, some commonly used fruits such as raisins and grapes can also be toxic to pets even in small quantities12. If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number immediately: (888) 426-4435.
Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst Pet Insurance1 can help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1 has cat and dog insurance policies2 to fit every budget.
Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.
1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.
2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.
10Pet Poison Helpline: Poison List
11U.S. Food & Drug Administration: Paws Off Xylitol It’s Dangerous for Dogs
12American Kennel Club: Are Grapes Bad for Dogs?
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