Seasonal Hazards for Pets

Getting Ready for the Fall

Fall is almost upon us and there are several hazards to pets, some of which are potentially fatal. Knowing what these hazards are and taking simple precautions can keep your pet healthy through the upcoming months.

Antifreeze: Most radiator antifreeze/coolant contains ethylene glycol and is highly toxic. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by children and animals. Five teaspoons can kill a 10-pound dog, less will kill a cat. It is very fast acting and results in kidney failure and death in as little as four to eight hours. Store new antifreeze in its original container, out of reach of pets and children. Keep the empty container or a record of the product used so that if your car leaks and your pet finds it before you do, you can tell your veterinarian what was consumed. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, call your veterinarian immediately.

Rodenticides: Rodenticides that kill the rodents will also kill your pets. They cause severe bleeding, kidney failure, and death. There are no safe rodenticides. Whether out of hunger, boredom, or curiosity, pets will consume these products. If rodenticides are used in your home, put them in places inaccessible to pets and children. Keep a record of the product used, and if accidental poisoning occurs, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate: Chocolate is a favorite people-treat at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but it is toxic to dogs, cats, and birds. The initial signs of chocolate poisoning are those of stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. If sufficient chocolate is consumed, an animal will become restless and uncoordinated and will suffer heart failure and/or respiratory failure. As little as one ounce of chocolate can kill a 10-pound dog. Like other poisonings, chocolate poisoning requires emergency medical treatment.

Holiday Meals: Holiday meals can also cause medical emergencies for pets. Chicken and turkey bones can get stuck or pierce holes in any portion of the digestive tract. Rich foods can cause sudden pancreatitis or bloat. Keep holiday meal, leftovers, and table scraps out of reach of your pet. If your pet insists on participating in the feast, cooked vegetables (without the butter and salt) are safe in small amounts.

Cold Weather: Indoor pets not acclimated to winter temperatures should not be left outside in cold weather for long periods of time. Outdoor pets can withstand cold temperatures if they have shelter from wind, rain and have bedding to insulate the floor they lay on. Always avoid electrical heating devices. They could electrocute your pet if wet or chewed on. Outdoor pets need extra food in cold weather to generate body heat, and they need access to water at all times. Keep your pet's feet clean and dry. Very cold weather can cause severe irritation when caught between pet's toes.


Written by JoAnn Carlson, owner of #1 Pet Mom, a professional pet sitting and dog walking business in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.