Fall Toxins for Dogs & Cats

By Dr. Steven Wolchinksy, Managing Veterinarian

As fall gets into full swing, so do new potential dangers that pose a threat to your dog and cat. Here are the top 5 fall toxins to be on the lookout this season. Keep your pet safe by keeping these out of reach!

1. Rodenticides

The use of rat and mouse poisons increase in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets and, if ingested, the results could be fatal. Symptoms can include weakness, lethargy, difficulty breathing, vomiting and even seizures. If you must use these products, please do so with extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets.

2. Chocolate

Did someone mention Halloween? The last week of October poses a big danger to our furry friends, as there’s a greater likelihood that your pet will find the candy stash. All forms of chocolate – especially dark chocolate – can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and seizures.

3. Antifreeze

Many people choose fall as the time to change their car’s engine coolant. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, an odorless, sweet-tasting chemical that can be deadly for dogs and cats. The substance poisons most pets when they lick up a spill in your driveway or garage, so it’s important to fill up your car as carefully as possible and to clean up any spills right away. If your pet has ingested antifreeze, they may appear to be disorientated. Other signs include nausea, vomiting and tremors.

4. Mushrooms

Fall and spring are mushroom seasons. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can be deadly for pets (and even humans). Since most toxic mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from nontoxic ones, the best way to prevent pets from ingesting these poisonous plants is to keep them away from areas where any mushrooms are growing.

5. Cold and Flu Medications

Feeling a little under the weather? Make sure any human medications you’re taking are secured away from your pets. A dog who comes across a pill bottle or box may rip apart the packaging and accidentally ingest the medication inside. Acetaminophen can cause liver failure in pets and damage red blood cells. Decongestants can cause elevated heart rates and blood pressure, leading to seizures.

When in doubt, if you believe your pet has ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for life-saving care immediately. And remember Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital is open 24/7/365 for any of your pet’s needs.

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