Whether it’s a packed season of days in the field, or long walks in the countryside enjoying the changing colours of the trees; autumn brings with it some unexpected hazards for our four-legged friends!
Here are some of the things to watch out for this autumn:
Acorns & conkers
Don’t let your dog’s play with acorns or conkers this autumn. Acorns contain tannins which are toxic to dogs and if swallowed, they cause stomach upsets and can also cause liver and kidney damage. Conkers contain a chemical called aesculin, which is toxic to dogs if ingested. However, conkers do have a very bitter taste and so cases of poisoning are rare. However, some dogs, especially puppies, might eat enough to make them poorly. They may also accidently swallow conkers if playing with them or carrying them in their mouths and they can also cause intestinal blockages.
Fermented fruit and rotting leaves
Piles of rotting leaves and fruit can contain large amounts of bacteria and mould. Rotting fruit can also produce natural alcohol compounds. If their coats or legs become covered with rotting fruit or leaves, it’s best to rinse them off as soon as possible.
Seasonal canine illness
Seasonal canine illness (SCI) is a relatively newly described condition which can be fatal. The cause is yet unknown and research is ongoing. Most commonly seen between August and November, it affects dogs after walking in woodland and can be fatal.
It can affect dogs of all shapes, sizes, sex and breeds, and can cause sickness, diarrhoea, lethargy, muscle tremors and a raised temperature. Symptoms come on quickly (about 24-72 hours after being in woodland).
Harvest mites are tiny orange insects. They can be found near the ears, between the toes or in the armpits of dogs which have been in long grass or dense foliage. The mites cause intense discomfort and itching and can drive your dog crazy.
Slugs & Snails
Slugs & snails carry lungworm! The highest risk of infection comes from the dog or puppy swallowing them, but even coming into contact with their trails on a food or water dish could be a source of infection.
Mushrooms, toadstools & berries
Some species of wild mushroom and toadstool are toxic to dogs. They cause vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, collapse, neurological signs and organ failure. Some berries can be poisonous too.
Typically mice and rats head indoors in autumn and winter, where it’s warmer, so if you are thinking of putting out any poison products, make sure they are out of reach of dogs in the house and are pet safe if possible.
Chocolate and sweets
Thanks to Trick or Treating, Halloween and early Christmas purchases, there could be a lot of chocolate and sweets around at this time of year. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, a stimulant (like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs. Sweets often contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener which is also toxic for them.
If you are thinking about planting bulbs in the garden this autumn ready for spring, make sure your pets don’t play with them or swallow them before you get them planted as some, including lillies and daffodils, can be toxic for dogs.
Don’t forget there are plenty of ticks on the move well into the autumn. In fact, they are increasingly active all year round.
Antifreeze (ethylene glycol)
Antifreeze contains the chemical ethylene glycol, which is commonly used in cars during the colder months to prevent the engine freezing. Pay extra attention to puddles in car parks and garages and make sure your dog doesn’t lick any water out of one, in case antifreeze has been spilt in it.
Salt on the roads
Rock salt can irritate your dogs’ feet, causing drying, cracking and even burns to their pads. It’s even more dangerous if they then lick it off their feet, swallowing the toxic chemicals.
Once the clocks go back and the nights get longer, if you have to exercise your dog on or near roads, it’s best to make sure you and other drivers can see your dog in the dark by using reflective leads or collars.