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28 Sep Autumn hazards to protect your dog against

The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder – after a record-breaking summer, autumn is now creeping up on us. And with that come some new risks to your dog both in the home and out and about. 

Here are our top ten doggy risks to watch out for in autumn.

Mushroom and toadstools

In the autumn, mushrooms and toadstools start to emerge in abundance. Whilst some non-toxic mushrooms are fine for your dog, there are many wild varieties that could cause them harm, some just by you or your dog touching them.

If fungi often grow in your garden, or you walk your dog in areas where fungi grow, such as woodland or grassland, you may wish to take extra measures to prevent your dog scavenging these toadstools. 

You could try:

  • Keeping your dog on a lead when walking in woodland or grassland
  • Training your dog to stay close by during walks
  • Having your dog wear a soft mesh muzzle to prevent them picking up mushrooms or toadstools whilst out
  • Walking your dog in a different area
  • If the fungi are in your garden, you could remove the fungi, although you should take appropriate safety measures, such as wearing gloves.
Two golden labradors amongst ferns

Acorns and conkers

Acorns and conkers are seeds of oak and horse chestnut trees respectively, and both are toxic to dogs. In the autumn these trees drop their acorns or conkers which could cause your dog stomach problems, poisoning or blockages if eaten.

If your dog is the type to gobble up acorns and conkers like their favourite treat, you might want to prevent this by:

  • Avoiding areas with oak or horse chestnut trees, or giving those trees a wide berth
  • Walking your dog on the lead in areas with these trees
  • Training your dog to stay close by during walks
  • Having your dog wear a soft mesh muzzle to prevent them picking up acorns or conkers whilst out
  • Regularly clearing fallen acorns or conkers in your garden or places you frequent

Fireworks

With autumn comes fireworks night, and whilst it may be great fun for us, many dogs are reactive to the loud bangs of fireworks, so finding ways to keep them calm is essential.  To help them manage, try the following:

  • Socialise puppies early – you can play firework noises to them quietly and then gradually increase the volume over time as they become more comfortable. Reward them for calm behaviour when the noises are playing
  • Set up a safe space for your dog, like a dark, cosy den full of familiar smells
  • Play calming music – it may even help to mask the noise of the fireworks
  • Make sure your pet is not left alone on fireworks night
  • When fireworks are going off it’s OK to give your dog a little cuddle if they come to you, but you should try not to ‘reward’ your dog’s reaction to the fireworks by comforting them too much, paying them more attention than usual or giving them treats. Instead, reward them for calm behaviour.
  • Distract your dog – play their favourite games or run through training with a tasty reward.

Open fires

Whether it’s a bonfire, an open fire in the home or a wood burner, fires can be a big hazard for dogs. The safest thing to do is to make sure your dog doesn’t ever get close enough to a fire to cause themselves damage. 

  • If you’re having a bonfire, leave your dog in the house, or at least in an enclosed area away from the fire itself
  • Use a hearth guard for your fireplace or wood burner when you’re using it
  • Never leave your dog unattended around any open fire or flame
  • If you are using candles, place these high up out of your dog’s reach – and especially away from waggy tails

Darker evenings

As the evenings get darker you may find yourself walking your pooch in lower light, or even in the dark. There are a few risks here for both you and your pet, so make sure you take these steps to stay safe:

  • Make sure your dog is visible – choose from light up collars, beacons, or reflective jackets so you can see them at all times, and do the same for yourself
  • Bring a high-quality torch with plenty of battery life – head torches are great as they free up your hands
  • Consider walking your dog on the lead, especially if they tend to run off or if you walk near roads
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wearing a PitPat

Antifreeze

Antifreeze is a potent chemical that can be deadly to pets. If you’ve filled up your car’s antifreeze make sure you thoroughly clean up any spills, as the sweet smell makes it an attractive prospect to your dog.

Chocolate and sweets

Halloween means there will be a lot of chocolate and sweets around the house. We all know chocolate is bad for our dogs, so make sure you keep it well out of their way, somewhere secure where they can’t reach it, to avoid that awkward trip to the vets.

Fleas and ticks

Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that the risk from fleas and ticks are. In fact, as we start to turn on our home’s central heating, you might find a resurgence in fleas that have lain dormant in your soft furnishings. To avoid an infestation, make sure you:

  • Clean all your soft furnishings and wash your carpets before turning the central heating back on
  • Make sure your dogs are completely up to date on their flea treatment
  • Make sure any dogs visiting your home are up to date on their flea treatment
  • Regularly check your dog for ticks and remove those you find with a tick hook

Even with the new hazards that autumn brings, it’s a wonderful time of year to be out with your dog. And whilst you’re exploring the great outdoors, don’t forget to monitor all their exercise and playtime with a PitPat dog activity monitor. Just pop on your dog’s collar, download the app, and you’re good to go! Get yours today for just £39.

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