As summer gives way to fall, make sure you know how to keep your four-legged family members safe and happy in the midst of the season’s weather changes and holiday happenings. There are all kinds of underlying risks that accompany autumn’s arrival, from plunging cold temperatures and freezing rain to toxic Halloween sweets and potential choking hazards. At Bayshore Veterinary Hospital, we’d like to remind the pet parents of Holmdel, NJ and surrounding communities about the various dangers dogs and cats can face as “pumpkin spice season” graces us with its presence once more.
If you have questions and need additional safety tips to see your pet safely through the fall and Halloween season, call us at (732) 671-3110!
Common Fall-Related Hazards for Pets
Pet safety hazards specific to the fall season include:
Autumn weather is often mild up to a point, but it can be unpredictable. Keep your eye on the latest weather reports and make sure your pet isn’t left outside for too long on cold and/or rainy days. If you have a pet that prefers the great outdoors, see that they have a sturdy, dry shelter filled with soft, clean bedding, along with plenty of food and fresh water to help them weather the elements in comfort. Check on them regularly to make sure they have what they need. If your pet is more of a homebody who likes to cuddle up with the family, keep them inside with you instead.
Dogs and cats may have fur coats, but a fur coat is not always guaranteed to keep your pet sufficiently warm, especially if it gets wet. Like us, our pets can be vulnerable to the cold and damp, and should not spend more time than is needed out in the elements. If you bring your pet inside and notice that they’re shivering, lethargic, and not very responsive, you should contact your vet immediately.
Many motorists need to break out the antifreeze this time of year to prepare their vehicles for the fast-approaching winter season. Unfortunately, antifreeze is extremely toxic to dogs and cats, and it can kill if it’s ingested in sufficient quantities. Make sure antifreeze containers are all tightly sealed and stored securely so your pet can’t reach them. Clean up any spills you find in the garage and driveway, too.
Halloween Pet Safety Hazards
Halloween should be fun for everyone, and it can be–as long as you plan ahead to keep your pet safe.
Candies and Other Treats
Sweets are the most common health hazard for dogs and cats. Never leave candies, baked treats, caramel apples and more sitting within your pet’s reach, as these can cause stomach upset at best and life-threatening illness at worst. Some of the most dangerous sweets include:
- Chocolate (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, etc.)
- Xylitol – An artificial sweetener used as a substitute for sugar, xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can be fatal if ingested in large enough amounts
- Grapes/raisins – Ingesting grapes and/or raisins can do serious damage to your pet’s kidneys
Candy Wrappers and Sticks
Candies themselves can be harmful enough, but their wrappers can also cause problems for pets, including choking and bowel obstruction. Lollipop and caramel apple sticks can also cause choking, obstruction, and internal injury if swallowed.
While Halloween decorations are generally safe, there are some that can be hazardous, especially to pets with a penchant for getting into trouble. These include:
- Candles – A major fire hazard; either keep them far out of your pet’s reach or use artificial candles instead
- Electrical cords and twinkle lights – Can be dangerous for pets that like to chew
- Potpourri and essential oils – Both can be toxic if ingested
- Fake spiderweb – A choking hazard; this material can also ensnare birds and bats (if used outdoors)
- Window and mirror decals – Choking hazard
- Plastic spider rings – Choking hazard
Some people like to go looking for trouble on Halloween, which can endanger outdoor pets– especially cats. Keep your companion safe inside with you at all times, and make sure your pet is secure when you open the door to trick-or-treaters. Many dogs and cats have escaped and gotten lost
this way! For additional insurance, have your pet microchipped so they’ll have a permanent ID on them at all times.