What is better than Fall in the Pacific Northwest. There is nothing better than a sunny fall day. There is no better time to get out and walk some of the local trails and with your dog. It is also the beginning of pet poisoning season. The change in the weather and the holiday seasons put our pets at increased risk of exposure to multiple different toxins.
Every year, without fail, as the weather starts to cool down the fleas go crazy. I can’t say this year has been worse than any other, but if you are one of the unlucky people that have experienced a flea infestation this year, you are not alone. When there is a freeze outside the fleas dies, as the freeze approaches, it seems the fleas increase their activity exponentially to keep the species alive. The risk of intoxication arises when the frantic pet owner gives a product to their pet incorrectly (overdose or wrong species) or chooses a product that the pet reacts to (cats can be sensitive to some topical flea medications, even if labeled for cats.) If the fleas are taking over your house, remember to use a safe area treatment (I like handheld sprays better than bombs) and contact your veterinarian for the best recommendation to treat your pets. There are many options available, and there is no one size fits all flea product.
Speaking of pests, as it gets cold outside, the rodents want to move in where it is warm. My favorite rodent control option is a good cat, but that isn’t an option for everyone. When making the choice to use a rodenticide, make sure you place the bait where your pets can’t get a hold of it. Also, make sure you know the active ingredient. Rodent baits all look pretty similar, but the active ingredients vary and the treatment varies significantly for each one.
Anti-freeze season is also here. I’m hoping everyone is aware that antifreeze is very dangerous to pets (and children.) If you change your own anti-freeze, make sure you safely discard the used liquid. A very small amount can be deadly, and unless you see the animal ingest it and start treatment immediately, the prognosis is very poor.
Candy season is also upon us. Halloween and Christmas treats are constantly putting our pets at risk. Chocolate is, of course, the major offender. Symptoms range from a little gastroenteritis to death depending on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. Like most veterinary toxin exposure, immediate veterinary attention after ingestion can greatly improve the prognosis. A fairly new toxin is xylitol. Xylitol is found in sugar-free gum and candies, artificial sweetener and some peanut butter. Xylitol affects a dog’s ability to process sugar in their liver and is life-threatening.
Safety is important when trick or treating and glow sticks are a great way to help keep the kids safe when wandering the neighborhood collecting treats. Glow sticks can cause problems when ingested or if the liquid inside the stick gets on the pet’s coat. Batteries can cause chemical burns also if chewed on or ingested. And remember, it is fun to dress up our pets, but just like with children, make sure your pet is comfortable and safe in the costume. And unlike children (hopefully) make sure if your pet cannot eat the costume and need emergency surgery to remove it.
Mushroom season is coming and some mushrooms can be toxic, remove any mushrooms from your yard to prevent any intoxication. Compost piles can also be a risk, mycotoxins can form during the fermentation process and also pose a risk to your pets. If you have a compost pile, make sure it is in a secure area away from your pets.
As my mother always told me, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take a little extra time to prevent exposure and you can avoid a trip to the animal ER. If you think your pet did eat something toxic, don’t wait, because the sooner you treat the better the prognosis with virtually any animal poisoning.
I had a great time seeing so many of you at the Farmers’ Market, can’t wait for next year. Take some time to get out and enjoy our lovely community this season. Maybe I’ll see you on the trails!