Fall’s cooler weather, holiday celebrations and abundance of delicious, homemade foods make it one of our favorite seasons of the year. But fall also presents a number of hazards and challenges for dogs and their owners. To ensure your furry companion enjoys the season just as much as you do, here are 15 ways to keep your dog happy and healthy this fall.
Introduce them to Pumpkins
Eating pumpkin in fall has become something of an American tradition. Which is also good news for your pup—because they can share in the pumpkin-eating season, too! From weight management and digestive health, to healthier skin and fur, pumpkin offers several health benefits for your pet. To feel out your pet’s interest in this fall treat, start by mixing a couple teaspoons of canned or fresh pumpkin to your dog’s food bowl (just make sure there’s no sugar or other additives included).
Fall coincides with the shedding of summer coats for many dogs. In addition to blanketing your world with hair, shedding is crucial to the comfort and health of your pet. For the sake of both you and your furry friend, take the time to brush your dog every week during the fall season, or as needed (daily brushing might be necessary for furrier dogs and cats).
Plant-Based Pest Prevention
Spring and summer are known as pest-heavy seasons, but did you know fall can be just as bad? Fleas, ticks and countless other insects remain a serious issue even as temperatures start to drop. To safeguard your pup and prevent them from bringing unwanted pests back into your home, treat them with a non-toxic, plant-based repellent before venturing outdoors. Applying every few days as a preventative measure is ideal.
Look Out for Snakes
Many types of snakes are most active (and aggressive) during fall, as they prepare for hibernation in winter. When hiking or just playing in the yard, watch your dog closely. Piles of leaves, tall grass, and other wild, unkempt spaces are prime territory for snakes. If for any reason your pet is bitten, take them to a veterinarian immediately—regardless of whether you think the snake is venomous or not.
Monitor the Water Bowl
While monitoring your dog’s water bowl is something you’ve no doubt grown accustomed to as a pet owner, there’s reason to be even more mindful of it during the fall months: Ice. Evening temperatures in fall occasionally drop below freezing in many parts of the country, which means your pet’s water bowl is vulnerable to freezing. Regularly checking your dog’s water for dangerous ice chunks is important to prevent a potential choking hazard.
No Sharing Holiday Food
From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving table scraps, fall is full of human foods that are unhealthy or outright toxic for pets. It’s important to be intentional about what your dog eats and doesn’t eat over the next few months. Because the holidays often involve houseguests coming and going, make sure all visitors also understand what your pup can and cannot be fed. To learn more about which foods you should avoid feeding your dog, click here.
Pay Close Attention to the Weather
It might not be cold yet, but fall can get quite chilly, especially in the evening. During autumn, it’s important to ensure that your dog—especially outdoor and smaller dogs—remain warm. If your pup starts exhibiting signs that their cold, you should take steps to warm them up immediately. If a storm is brewing, be sure to bring your pup inside, as low temperatures with rain can turn a healthy dog into a sick dog quickly.
Keep School Supplies Out of Reach
With kids returning to school, fall is also the season of school shopping. Unfortunately, supplies like pens, markers, erasers and glue double as dangerous choking hazards for pets. It’s crucial to keep such materials out of reach of your dog at all times.
Be Careful with Holiday Decorations
What would the holidays be without decorations? Wreaths, festive lighting, decorative plants, cute knick knacks—all help put us in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, many of these holiday decorations can be harmful to your dog. Dogs can easily become tangled in electrical wiring and lighting, while smaller decorations like ornaments present a choking hazard to curious pets. Be mindful of what decorative plants you use, too, as several types of holiday greenery are toxic if ingested. When decorating for fall, keep hazards like these away from your pet—you might just save their life.
Avoid Toxic Pest Control
As fall approaches and pests move indoors, it might be tempting to purchase some rodenticide or insecticide for the attic or basement. However, dog owners should never resort to using traditional, toxin-based pest control methods—they’re simply far too dangerous to use in or around a home shared with pets. Tip: for indoor bug issues, use an indoor-safe, naturally-sourced pesticide instead; for outdoor, we recommend using a plant-safe, non-toxic solution.
Watch Out for Mushrooms
Fall’s beautiful weather makes the season an ideal time for long dog walks, hiking and exploring the outdoors. But with fall comes wild mushrooms, many of which are toxic to your pet. Whether in your own backyard or on the trail, pay close attention to what you pup’s putting in their mouth. Under no circumstance ever let your dog consume a wild mushroom, and if for some reason they do, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Dress for Hunting Season
For many, fall means hunting season. To safeguard you and your dog from possible accidents, wear bright colors when venturing outdoors, just in case.
Prep for Snow & Ice
Few seasonal events are as memorable as the first snowfall of the year. But for dogs, snow-covered surfaces aren’t all fun and games. Even the smallest bits of ice or compacted snow can damage your pup’s sensitive paw pads. If you live in a region commonly blanketed with snow and ice, consider purchasing dog booties to make daily walks a safer and more enjoyable experience.
Keep Seasonal Allergies in Check
Pet allergies are known to flare up in autumn. If your pup is among the many pets that suffer from seasonal allergies, make sure to have all appropriate medications on hand. If you’ve run out of meds, now is the time to visit your vet and stock up. If your dog has shown allergy symptoms before but you’ve yet to get a prescription, visit the vet ASAP—you could save your dog a lot of unnecessary suffering.
Hide the Antifreeze
In the months preceding winter, car owners regularly add antifreeze to their vehicles. What many people don’t know is that pets are often attracted to the sweet chemical odor of this toxic substance. Even just a few teaspoons of antifreeze is lethal to most pets. When engaging in car maintenance this fall, be sure to clean up antifreeze spills immediately, and to always store the chemical safely out of reach of curious pets.