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Ahhh, Autumn! The season for crisp air, uncrowded trails, colourful foliage, and snowy mountain peaks! But fall is also a time of potential dangers for our pets. From household poisons to cold weather hazards and even to seasonal celebrations, there are several safety issues to keep in mind.

Keep your furry friends happy and healthy during this beautiful time of the year with these autumn safety tips:

Be cautious of rodenticides 

As the cooler temperatures approach, rodents start to seek shelter indoors and the use of poisons becomes more common. Rodent poisons, also called Rodenticides, are highly toxic to pets and, if ingested, the results could be fatal. If these are used around the household, be extremely careful and make them inaccessible to your pets. You can also consider using anti-rodent products that are nontoxic.

Watch for cold weather poisons

Fall is a good time to change your car’s engine coolant, but remember that Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic to pets, so spills should be cleaned up immediately. You may have noticed that coolants have a sweet smell, which is very attractive to pets. As an alternative, propylene glycol-based coolants, while not completely nontoxic, are much less toxic than other engine coolants.

Stay away from mushrooms

Mushroom season is here! While exciting as it may be to hunt for your favourite variety, make sure you prevent your pets from eating mushrooms. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets.

Please visit the ASPCA’s Poisonous Plants page for more information. If you witness your pet eating a wild mushroom, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately. 

Watch out for wildlife

With fall upon us and bear activity beginning to increase as they prepare to hibernate up in the Valley, it is important to stay cautious while adventuring outdoors with our pets. Whether in a residential area or in the backcountry, remember that off-leash dogs are a safety concern for everyone involved. To avoid conflicts with bears, consider bringing your pets to one of Whistler’s dog parks for their fill of off-leash outdoor activity.

Beware of Carbon Monoxide poisoning when turning on your heater

Colder months are the time of the year when carbon monoxide poses greater threat. Also called the “silent killer, CO is  odorless, colourless and invisible. Produced from fires, car exhaust systems, and generators, CO is a poisonous gas that is toxic to all species. Home furnaces are one of the most common sources of CO, and it is important to take preventive measures to keep ourselves and our pets safe. Ensure that you have a carbon monoxide detector and that it is working (check your smoke alarm too), never run engines in a closed area, keep fireplaces clean and well ventilated, and schedule regular maintenance on your water heater or furnace. If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned by carbon monoxide, take them into a local emergency veterinarian immediately.

Bang on your hood and save a cat’s life

With colder days sweeping through the valley, cats who enjoy the freedom of the outdoors might like to cozy up on the warm engine (or in warm wheel wells) of recently run vehicles. If you turn on your car and a cat happens to be sleeping in there, they can be severely hurt or even killed by moving engine parts (fan belts tend to be particularly dangerous). Prevent injuries by knocking loudly on your hood or honking the horn before starting your car. This will wake up the cat and give it a chance to escape.

Keep school supplies out of paws’ reach

According to PetMD, school supplies such as erasers, glue sticks, crayons, markers, bouncy balls, pencils, pens, and paperclips can present a potential choking hazard for pets. Although considered “low toxicity” to pets, there is the potential for GI upset and even a blockage, so make sure children keep their school supplies out of reach of your pet.

Be cautious of crowded celebrations

Celebrations like Thanksgiving and Halloween often bring crowds together. If your pet has special needs or is fearful of unfamiliar faces, be sure to tell your guests about your pet before they come over, or keep your pet at home if you join a celebration. Also, with the door opening and closing often, make sure to keep an eye on your pet for potential escapes and ask your guests to be mindful of them, too.

Be careful with holiday foods

As we often discussed, too much holiday, people’s and rich food can cause stomach problems or pancreatitis. Do not let your pet eat any turkey bones or raw meat (raw poultry can cause salmonella poisoning in cats and dogs). If you’re going to give your pet a taste of some turkey, only give them small portions and only turkey that is fully cooked. Also, if ingested, bread dough can cause severe bloating (the yeast in bread dough turns the sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol). Halloween treats are not necessarily good for us, but they are definitely worse for your pets. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and several other ingredients in candy (raisins, artificial sweeteners, some nuts) are extremely dangerous so keep those treats to yourself.

Be careful with decorations

Many decorations contain toxic metals and can become choking hazards. Also, some flowers and plants, such as hydrangeas, amaryllis, baby’s breath, and ferns, are toxic to cats and dogs. If you choose to use plants to decorate your home for the holidays, choose plants that aren’t toxic to pets.

Please visit the ASPCA’s list, to find out what plants you should avoid.