It's official... fall has arrived, and after an unusually hot, dry summer, most of us welcome a break from the heat, and enjoy the changing season. However fall is a time of many potential dangers for our four-footed companions.
*It is important to remember that fall is party time for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes! When these pesky critters appear in the spring, responsible pet caregivers immediately begin to use pest protection programs for their animals, but many feel that once the weather has had a few cold days, the flea problem disappears. The fact is that fleas are more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year. Throughout the summer, the flea population has increased, and as the weather cools down, they instinctively seek out warm places to survive and lay eggs. Unless flea preventatives are used well into the winter, problems associated with flea infestations including flea-bite dermatitis and possibly tapeworms may develop. Ticks have been abundant this summer, and they are still alive and well! These pests are tough and can hibernate and survive very cold weather. Then there are mosquitoes which are more than just inconveniences, as they pose serious health risks! Unlike fleas and ticks that live on your dog, mosquitoes drop by for a quick meal, and then are gone, but they have the potential to transmit life-threatening diseases such as heartworm. We encourage pet caregivers to be diligent in the consistent use of vet approved flea, tick and heartworm prevention products. It is easier to expend a little extra energy, time, and money to prevent these problems than it is to treat them!
* Most people winterize their automobiles in the fall, creating a serious threat to the pet community. Traditional auto antifreeze is lethal to animals, and dogs are attracted to it because of the sweet-salty taste. Suffering is a horrific part of antifreeze poisoning and as little as a ¼ teaspoon ingested from a puddle on the garage floor can kill an animal. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at least 10,000 dogs drink antifreeze every year, and most die! Mindy Bough of the ASPCA Poison Control Center stresses that just a few licks can cause kidney failure--even a small amount that may be licked off a paw. Propylene glycol-based coolants are available, and although they are less toxic than the traditional ethylene glycol-based coolant, it is important to not allow even a drop of any antifreeze to remain where your pet has access to it.
*Cooler weather should not be used as an excuse to skip walking the dog. An exercise-deprived dog usually develops a serious case of cabin fever, which escalates to frustration-induced behaviors such as hyperactivity and destructiveness. Dogs (as well as humans) need DAILY exercise to keep physically and emotionally fit! If the weather is really uncooperative, making it impractical to exercise outdoors, a treadmill can be a great tool to help your dog stay active. Most dogs adapt to treadmill exercise if they are introduced to it slowly, but it is important to be patient and never push the dog...if she gets spooks, she may never get comfortable enough to enjoy using it, and NEVER leave a dog on the treadmill unsupervised.
With a few extra precautions, you can keep your pet safe and healthy during these crisp, cool autumn months!
Pauline Larsen can be contacted at Paw Prints, Box 373, Newell, Iowa, 50568 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.