Autumn is a beautiful time of year. The air is crisp and the leaves are turning an array of stunning colors. Blankets of red, yellow and orange leaves are everywhere. While fall is a great time for your dog to be outside before the cold weather hits, you do need to use some caution at this time of year. Plants and animals are preparing for winter, and can pose some hazards for your dog. Here are some dangers to watch for:
- Wild mushrooms. Cool, humid weather makes for the perfect growing season for wild mushrooms, which can pop out from under a bed of leaves. In most cases, wild mushrooms are harmless, but some species are extremely poisonous--and it's hard to tell the difference. A dog that ingests a poisonous mushroom will experience vomiting about 15 minutes after eating it. Some dogs will eat mushrooms, while others inadvertently swallow pieces when nosing around in the leaves. The best way to avoid mushroom poisoning is to pull out all mushrooms as soon as you see them growing. Since mushrooms like dark, moist soil, rake leaves frequently to avoid provide this fungi with a place to grow.
- Piles of leaves. Dogs love to run through piles of leaves, scattering them everywhere. Some of the leaves and twigs can be irritating to a dog's skin, especially if you have a dog with a thin coat. If you see your dog chewing on any of the sticks and leaves, put a stop to this behavior. Many oak and maple leaves can cause digestive upset for dogs if swallowed. If consumed in large quantities, they can even be poisonous.
- Acorns. Fallen acorns are a common sight in the fall. While most dogs have no interest in eating acorns, some actually do. If your dog likes to eat acorns, keep him far away from oak trees in the fall. Acorns can cause digestive upset and may even result in an intestinal blockage.
- Mums. A beautiful flower associated with fall, chrysanthemums--mums for short--are also toxic to dogs if eaten. The flowers, leaves and stems can all cause skin irritation, stumbling, vomiting, diarrhea and excessive salivation. Keep your dog away from mums in your yard placing pots up high where your dog can't reach them, or fencing off areas of the yard where mums grow.
- Snakes. As the weather cools, snakes become less active. Some start to look for places to hole up for the winter. Woodpiles are a favorite spot for snakes seeking a dark, protected area when the air gets cold. Dogs who like to nose around in woodpiles during the fall may find themselves face-to-face with a still-awake snake. While most snakes are harmless, some species, like rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths can deliver fatal bites. Coral snakes also like to spend time buried under piles of rotted leaves. If stacks of raked leaves are left standing too long before being thrown out, coral snakes may be tempted to make them into a home. If your dog starts rutting around in the pile, he may come face to one of these poisonous snakes. If you live in coral snake country, remove raked leaves right away to discourage these reptiles from making a home in your yard.