If the autumn season has you thinking about football, crisp days, yummy soups, you’re not alone. Fall is a great time to be outdoors with your pet, too. For dogs, nothing beats a romp in the leaves or a sniff through the hay; and your kitty is probably relishing those midday sunbeams as the days get shorter and the nights longer.

Keeping your pet healthy in the fall is something we are thinking about at Town & Country Animal Hospital. And with our tips, you and your pet can slow down and enjoy the season, safely.

Watch Out For Ticks

Ticks are still very much out and about in the fall, and studies show some can even survive a frost. Here are some tips to keep ticks at bay in the autumn.

  • Clean up the leaf litter and debris that they love to hide in
  • Check for ticks after each outdoor outing or yard time
  • Continue to use parasite preventives year round
  • Ask us about tick-borne disease screening tests for your pets

Rat Poison and Rodenticides

Autumn is a time to put our gardens to bed and to manage any pests that might take up residence during the colder season. But we need to be aware of fall pet safety in the garden, too.

Rat poison and rodenticides are highly toxic to pets and can cause death if ingested. Use another form of control whenever possible, if at all.  Keep in mind that your neighbors still may use toxic chemicals, and carcasses can still be deadly. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your pet has eaten a rodent.


Autumn storms can bring outcroppings of all sorts of mushrooms. Some of these are non-toxic, but there are some mushrooms that cause kidney and/or liver failure in pets (and humans).

Since it is extremely difficult for even a mushroom expert to be sure if a mushroom is safe or not, it’s best to steer pets clear of any mushroom you see. Watch your yard carefully if your pet is outside alone, and remove any mushrooms you see immediately. If you think your pet has eaten a mushroom, take her to your veterinarian right away.

Feed Your Pet Right

As the weather cools, your pet’s nutritional needs may change. It’s a good time to talk to your veterinarian about whether or not your pet needs more food in order to maintain a healthy body weight and stay warm. Outdoor pets, older pets, and sick or injured pets may need a different diet to stay their healthiest. Feed the highest quality diet you can, and ask us if you have any questions.

Chocolate and High Fat Foods

As we head into autumn and the holiday season, many of us turn to richer, heartier foods ourselves! It’s important to make sure our pets don’t get into anything that can make them sick; rich and fatty foods can cause diarrhea, GI upset, and pancreatitis.

Chocolate is highly toxic to pets and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and seizures. And Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in sugar free candy and gum, can cause severe liver failure and death. Talk to us to make sure you know what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to holiday foods.

Dangerous Decorations

Fall and the holidays also mean decorations. A little awareness and preparation can go a long way towards keeping our pets safe when the decor comes out.

  • Keep jack-o-lanterns outdoors, and consider using LED lights instead of live flames
  • Keep all electrical cords away from pets
  • Check this handy guide for a list of toxic and non toxic holiday plants
  • Keep the cornucopia of fall decorations safely out of pets’ reach

Fall Pet Safety: Better Safe

Fall also means decreased visibility. You might be walking (or running with) your dog at dusk or before daybreak, with the approach of shorter days. Invest in a reflective collar, harness, and leash to make sure drivers, bikers, and other walkers can see him. A blinking collar may also help ward off urban coyotes, who may or may not have little hesitancy about attacking a dog, with or without a person.

If you live in a rural area, also consider a blaze orange vest for your dog so hunters won’t mistake him for a deer or other animal.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health and keeping her safe in the fall, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.