Sasha on Casa Grande Mountain. Photo courtesy of Esther Martinez
by Blake Herzog
We’re somewhere between our pets being too hot in summer and too cold in winter, but this lovely in-between season has its own pitfalls. Some of these are hot-weather hangovers that we aren’t quite out of the woods on, and others arise from our preparations for winter weather and holidays, but all it takes is a little awareness to keep animals safe and comfortable.
Keep your pet (and you) visible
As the days grow shorter and your life grows busier you’ll probably be walking outside in the dark more frequently, so you should look into buying a reflective collar and leash for your furry friends and make sure whoever’s on the other end of the leash is wearing a can’t-miss-it jacket, pair of shoes or shorts or other safety gear.
Give them a little TLC
A seasonal shift in the weather can affect pets’ health just as it does humans, especially as they get older. Make sure to protect them from the shock of rapidly cooling days and nights, and if they have arthritis, watch for limping or other signs it could be flaring up. Joint supplements with glucosamine could help them feel more comfortable and able to move and play.
Keep their treats healthy
Halloween and Thanksgiving are fabulously fun holidays, and you’ll probably want to get your pet in on the fun, but don’t let them get into the “people” food, especially sweets with sugar, chocolate or artificial sweeteners — xylitol is the big one to watch out for. Some nonprocessed meats and vegetables would be OK in small amounts, but it’s usually simpler to just draw a thick line between what they eat and what humans eat during busy holiday events.
Ticks are thought of as mainly a summer menace but can be found year-round, so don’t ease up on flea and tick treatments and continue to check your dogs and cats for these parasites, which can thrive in piles of dead leaves, when they come back inside.
Beware of cold-weather poisons
Dropping temperatures can drive rodents and other vermin indoors to seek warmth, so the chemicals and traps people use to keep them at bay are more likely to be in the environment. Pets can die from ingesting rodenticides, so if you must use them be very cautious with handling and storage.
Look out for antifreeze
Drivers are beginning to guard their vehicles against extreme temperatures, which means antifreeze is more likely to be found in driveways and pans. It usually contains ethylene glycol, a sweet-smelling fluid that can cause kidney failure and death with a few ounces or less, depending on your pet’s size. Clean up any home spills immediately and keep your pets far away from possible puddles anywhere else. There are less toxic alternatives that do not contain ethylene glycol, so consider switching to one of these products.