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Sunridge Veterinary Clinic

Pet Safety Tips for The Seasons!

With the changing of seasons, we prepare for a new set of dangers for our dogs and cats. The following is a list of the most common hazards to avoid over the year.

#1 Decomposing Organic Material - Fall

This applies to leaf piles and composted waste. Those leaf piles are fun to jump in but can harbor mold and bacteria that if ingested, can cause digestive upset in your pets. Compost piles are dangerous to pets because they may contain mycotoxins that can affect your pet's central nervous system causing hypersensitivity and seizures. 

#2 Ticks, Fleas and Internal Parasites

Spring and fall are peak seasons for ticks. Many tick species can survive past the first frost and even live through the winter. Fleas, as well, are hardy creatures and thrive in rainy fall weather. Internal parasites are carried by rodents and birds. As young birds are learning to fly, they become easy prey for our pets and can transmit some nasty internal parasites. Reduce your pet's risks by cleaning up any excess leaves and grass that ticks like to hide out in. Be extra vigilant when your pets are outdoors to avoid any interaction with birds and rodents and talk to us about preventative flea, tick and internal parasite medication appropriate for your pet's needs.

#3 Plants and Seeds

Harvesting our gardens and preparing flower beds for fall, can create a whole new opportunity for our pets to get themselves into trouble. Plants which we think are harmless and even healthy, can contain toxic parts that may harm our pets. Some common examples are: Apple seeds, onions and garlic, tomato stems and leaves, rhubarb leaves, cherry pits and flower bulbs. These plants can cause anything from mild digestive upset and skin irritation to kidney damage and central nervous system distress. Be aware of the plants in your yard and garden. Check with poison control to distinguish which ones may be harmful and limit your pet's exposure as much as possible. Grass stems and the seeds from uncut grass can pose a unique risk as dogs and cats commonly like to eat and chew it. The stems and seeds can become lodged in the animal's tonsils and cause irritation and infection. We see patients, most commonly dogs, every year that have grass awns (seeds) lodged in their ears and paws as well. This painful situation can cause infection and abscesses, often times resulting in the need for a general anesthetic and surgical intervention.

#4 Poisonous Chemicals - All Year 

Rodenticide: As the weather turns cold, mice and other rodents look for somewhere warm to inhabit. Unfortunately, that usually means our houses. Rodent poison is extremely toxic to our pets. Even if using pet proof poison traps, rodents can drag the bait out and leave it somewhere where our pets can find it. The carcasses of poisoned rodents may contain the toxic substance that killed them, and we all know how much our dogs love to eat dead things. Nobody wants a house overrun with rodents. Try to prevent their access into your home as a way of prevention. Make sure outside doors remain closed. Check all around the outside of your home for any possible access points and close them off to these intruders. Steel wool works well to close off areas around pipes. If you do end up with some unwanted guests, call a local exterminator who is trained to safely remove them.

Ethylene glycol: Winterizing your car and changing the fluids can be deadly for your pet. Antifreeze and brake fluid contain a highly toxic substance called ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is sweet smelling and tasting, which entices animals to lap it up. This toxic substance can fatally damage the brain, liver and kidneys. Always keep your pet away from the garage and dispose of old fluids safely. Be aware of any fluids spilled on the ground, as it takes only one teaspoon of ethylene glycol to poison a cat and three tablespoons to kill a medium sized dog. If you think your pet has ingested this substance, seek immediate veterinary intervention. Time is of the essence and the potential damages may be minimized if treatment is sought within the first couple of hours.

#5 Holiday Feasts - All Year Long

Halloween and Thanksgiving are a time of celebration, joy and feasting! As animal lovers, we enjoy including our pets in the festivities. Here's a few things to watch out for to keep them safe:

Of all the foods that are hazardous to our pets, chocolate is definitely the most common and significant threat we see. Who isn't attracted to the sweet, creamy smell of chocolate? Dogs are no exception. Certain chemicals found in chocolate can be toxic to dogs if ingested, causing a number of medical complications that could result in death. The darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of these chemicals. Therefore, dark chocolate and bakers chocolate are much more toxic then milk and white chocolate. Signs and symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity include: Vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, muscle rigidity, rapid breathing, seizures, weakness, cardiac failure and coma. Although chocolate poisoning is much more common in dogs it can be seen in felines as well. Chocolate poses the same risks to cats but is seen much less as cats are not as likely to ingest it.


Fatty foods and the grease from certain meats can trigger pancreatitis in dogs and cats. Avoid feeding your pet food high in fat to avoid this painful and life threatening condition. Leftover bones are best avoided as well. They can splinter and can cause obstructions in the airway and digestive tract. At the very least, table scraps and bones can cause digestive upset and diarrhea which may require medical treatment. If you want to treat your pet to a special meal, give us a call and we can give you a list of healthy, safe treat options and pet friendly pet recipes.  

#6 Allergies - All Year!

People often associate spring as allergy season but fall can be just as uncomfortable for our allergic pets. Dust and mold particles are very high in fall. Certain weeds and crops being harvested can trigger an allergic reaction . Signs that your pet may be affected by allergies may include: excessive scratching and biting of the skin, patches of missing hair, hives, rashes, coughing, watery eyes and sneezing. If you notice any of these symptoms call us. There are many new, safe and effective treatments available.

#7 Wild Animals

Fall is the time that many wild animals are preparing for hibernation. Interactions with wild animals and household pets increases during the fall months. Be aware that wild animals are more likely to risk the chance of human interaction, in their desperate hunt for enough food to sustain them over the winter . This desperation can also make them more aggressive and more likely to stand their ground and fight, as opposed to fleeing. Keep your pets on leash when out walking and hiking in wilderness areas. Keep food stowed safely and make sure garbage is picked up and not left out in the open. These simple measures will not only keep your pet safe, but yourself, and the wild animals as well.

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