Monday, September 26, 2016

Hello Autumn!

Autumn is finally here!

Many of us welcome the changing leaf colors, cooler temperatures, and pumpkin-flavored, well, everything. It is a sign that the fall season is finally here! However, there are a few hazards pet owners should keep in mind:

Ticks: Although tick populations tend to dwindle over the summer months, they will often crop up again during the fall. Ticks like to live in long grass and wooded areas. Use a comb to check your animal for ticks every time he goes outside, and don't skimp on the preventative just because the weather is getting cooler. Deer ticks are still out there and can spread Lyme disease, which can be just as much of a danger to you as it is for your pet. We recommend continuing to use flea/tick preventative throughout the fall and, ideally, year-round.

Temperature: Fall is an interesting time for pet care. Depending on where you live, you may have to worry about everything from heatstroke to frostbite (although hopefully not back-to-back!). In general, make sure that your pet has plenty of access to water both outside and inside throughout the fall season so he can regulate his intake as needed. Just because the weather might have gotten cooler, it does not mean that your pet has a decreased need for proper hydration.

Halloween: Everyone loves a pet in costume! But be sure to keep your pet's fun and safety in mind. Some costumes can impair your pet's motion or hearing, and others have small pieces that could be choking hazards. After trick-or-treating, make sure that candy is stored out of your pet's reach, perhaps into a cabinet. Candy smells and tastes delicious! But it can be very dangerous for pets.

Grooming: Many pets will shed their summer coats at the beginning of fall. Regular brushing for those with long hair will prevent serious matting, and pets with shorter hair will appreciate a good brushing to help remove remaining summer hair. If you cannot commit to regular coat care, talk to your veterinarian or groomer about clipping or shaving options that are appropriate for the weather.

Mushrooms and seasonal plants: Fall is mushroom and mum season, both of which can be toxic! Luckily, most mushrooms have little or no toxicity. However, some mushrooms can present life threatening problems, and it is often difficult for an untrained eye to pick out which is which. Mums also may appear benign, but they can cause stumbling, skin inflammation, increased salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested. The best way to prevent ingestion of potentially dangerous plants is to keep pets well away from any mushrooms or mums. If you think that your pet has eaten a mushroom or a mum plant, call your veterinarian or animal poison control for advice. 

Watch out for Wildlife: Autumn is the season when snakes and other animals prepare for hibernation. This can increase the possibility of bites to your pets. Although there are no native venomous snakes in Rhode Island, timber rattlers and copperheads can still be found in nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts. And it’s not only snakes that you need to be aware of. Mice, rats, and other creatures may startle more easily as they are trying to bed down for the winter. As always, it never hurts to call your veterinarian if you have any concerns about a potential bite.

School Supplies: Remind your children to be careful with their supplies! Items like glue sticks, pencils, and magic markers are generally considered to have low toxicity, but pets may mistake them for chew tows and they can cause gastrointestinal upset and blockages if ingested.