Autumn can be a great season for dogs and dog owners alike, but there are also some important health risks to be aware of during this time of year. To make sure your canine companion stays safe and happy this fall, read on to learn how to reduce the risk of five common autumn health problems.
- Wildlife and Plants
- Holiday foods
- Lack of exercise
While summertime is the peak season for mosquitos carrying heartworm, symptoms of heartworm infection in dogs often do not show up for several months. It takes around seven months for the heartworm larvae to become adult worms; by then, your dog’s symptoms could be serious. In addition to taking monthly heartworm prevention medication, dogs should be tested for heartworm on an annual basis. So autumn is a good time to schedule your dog’s yearly vet visit! Your vet will test your dog’s blood using with a heartworm antigen test kit. Some of these tests will need to be sent to a veterinary clinical diagnostics laboratory for testing, while other tests provide results right in your vet’s office within 10-15 minutes. Although preventative medicine is the best way to keep your dog healthy, diagnosing heartworm early will ensure your dog gets the proper treatment and can make a full recovery.
From snakes to rodents, fall is prime time for wild animal activity. Your pup might love to chase after squirrels and chipmunks out in the yard, but you’ll need to ensure they don’t come face-to-face with more dangerous animals. In addition, many people put out rat poison during this time of year to prevent rodents from making their way into the house. If you keep rat poison around, make sure it’s stored in a place where your dog can’t get at it. Wild mushrooms can also pose a risk for dogs. Although most are non-toxic, some can be poisonous to your pup. In short – keep a close eye on your dog and on what’s around you this season.
The holidays are a peak time for food safety issues in pets. Most dog owners know that their pets should never ingest chocolate, but be sure to keep the grapes on the fruit plate and raisin-filled breads and cakes far away, too. While grapes and raisins aren’t technically toxic for dogs, they can still pose serious health problems, including kidney failure. You might be tempted to treat your dog to table scraps, but overly rich foods can cause significant gastrointestinal problems. Opt for dog-friendly treats instead — and do not let your pup gnaw on bones from the turkey.
As the temperatures cool down, many people will start using antifreeze in their cars. The problem is that antifreeze has a sweet odor that pets often mistake for a welcome treat. Be sure to store antifreeze and other harmful chemicals out of your dog’s reach and to clean up any spills immediately.
It can be hard to brave the colder temperatures, but it’s important for both dogs and owners to be physically active throughout the fall and winter. Obesity is a real risk factor for diseases in both humans and pets, and getting regular exercise helps cut down that risk immensely.
Owners are usually very in tune with their pet’s health. If you think something just isn’t right, go with your instincts and call your vet.