Fall Pet Safety Tips for Dog and Cat Families in Charleston, SC

Unlike many northern states, our community here in Charleston, SC is not likely to experience hazardous cold as the fall season progresses. Still, there are other common health risks for pets this time of year that every owner should be aware of (and prepared for). Take a moment to review our tips provided below, and don’t hesitate to call our animal hospital at (843) 571-7095 if you have any questions!

Ticks and Other Parasites

Warmer climates are ideal for pests like ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes, as they can remain active just about all year round. This is bad news for our dogs and cats, but they can stay protected with the routine administration of high-quality pest preventatives.

  • Make sure your pet gets their scheduled dose of flea and tick preventative on time.
  • Bring your pet in to see their veterinarian at least once a year for a physical exam, vaccinations, parasite screens, and a refill of parasite preventatives.
  • If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, check them over thoroughly for ticks (this includes checking under the tail, inside the ears, and between their paw pads) before bringing them in.
  • Keep your pet away from thick brush and heavily forested areas, which are often hot spots of tick activity.
  • Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, among others. Lyme is especially dangerous as it an be transmitted from animals to humans. If you live in an area where ticks could be prevalent, ask your veterinarian about getting your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease.

Wild Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms come in many varieties, and while some are safe to ingest, others can cause serious illness or even death. It is not always easy to identify which mushrooms are harmful and which ones aren’t, so it’s best to assume that any mushroom can be dangerous. Damp autumn weather can cause a major increase in mushroom growth, and some curious pets might try to get a bite or two out of a poisonous mushroom if they spot one in their yard or while on a walk. Always keep an eye out for mushrooms growing on your property, and remove any that you find. If you’re worried that your pet might have eaten a wild mushroom, contact your veterinarian right away. You can also get more information about mushroom toxicity here.

Fall Holiday Foods

Halloween and Thanksgiving are known for their tasty morsels, and it’s common for many dogs and cats to wind up at the vet’s office after eating something they shouldn’t have. While many “people” foods may only cause mild stomach upset in pets, some can be much more dangerous. This includes:

  • Sugar-free candy and baked goods: Quite a few sugar-free treats, including hard candy, chewy candy, cookies, gum, and more, contain a sweetener called xylitol. Xylitol is extremely toxic to pets if ingested, and in some worst-case scenarios it can be deadly.
  • Hard candies and candy wrappers: If swallowed, hard candies and candy wrappers can cause choking in pets. Some wrappers may also get lodged in the intestines and cause a blockage. In addition to keeping candies and other sweets out of your pet’s reach, be sure to dispose of all candy wrappers right away!
  • Macadamia nuts, almonds, and pecans: Nuts are rich in fats and can make your pet very sick. Just because it’s not chocolate, doesn’t mean it’s safe!
  • Grapes and raisins: Ingesting grapes/raisins can damage your pet’s kidneys and cause lasting problems–or it can be deadly. Even when baked into cookies or bread, raisins can be a serious health hazard.
  • Garlic and onions: Both are toxic to dogs and cats, raw or cooked.
  • Meat bones: Turkey bones, chicken bones, ham bones…any kind of bone can pose risks to your pet, including choking and damage to the mouth, esophagus, stomach and/or intestines, and bowel obstruction.
  • Chocolate: Regardless of the form it takes, chocolate should never be a part of your pet’s menu. Along with the amount of sugar and caffeine it contains, chocolate can also contain high levels of cocoa (and the higher the amount, the more dangerous it is to pets). Whether it’s white chocolate or dark chocolate, it should always be kept out of your pet’s reach.