There’s nothing like the first weeks of crisp, cool air after a sticky summer. You have more energy and so does your dog, so go ahead and enjoy the gorgeous foliage and catch up on yard work together. Fall is also a good time to do some basic indoor pet maintenance in preparation for colder weather.
Here are some tips for enjoying fall with your dog:
· ‘Tis the season for rodents to seek refuge in your house. If you use poisons do so with extreme caution; make sure your dog has no access to where they are left. If you suspect your dog has consumed a rodent control product, call the ASPCA 24-hour poison control hotline (888-426-4435) and/or take the dog to the vet immediately.
· Dogs love leaf raking time. The piles you create make for great crash landings and gleeful scattering. Though that means more work for you, watching pup revel in the action can be so inviting that you just have to join in. But don’t let pup run through leaf piles that have been left standing. They can harbor rodents, snakes, fleas, ticks, and worst of all, sharp objects.
· It’s a wonderful season for hiking, and nothing thrills your dog like exploring nature’s changing scents. The cooler weather allows for long, leisurely hikes, but you still need to bring plenty of water. Before you set out, spend 15 minutes practicing recall in your yard, using her favorite treat as a reward. Then pack more treats for the hike. In the fall, snakes are preparing for hibernation and can be particularly grumpy. Know what kinds of snakes inhabit your area and keep away from trails where they’re likely to be found. During the hike, call your dog a few times and reward her with a treat. It’s good practice for potential snake encounters.
· Pay special attention to skin and coat care in the fall. Continue using flea and tick preventives, at least through the first couple of hard frosts. Like everyone else, those tiny pests are looking for a snug winter hideaway, and there’s no place like your dog’s coat. Take pup for a fall grooming and ask that the groomer use a flea and tick shampoo to get rid of insects, eggs and larvae that the preventive medication may have missed. Order extra de-shedding, because your dog is losing her summer coat; you need to make sure there’s room for incoming winter growth. Fall is also a time when allergies, hot spots, and dermatitis act up, so request a soothing skin and coat conditioner. If the groomer finds rough spots, it’s time to take pup to the vet for a fall check-up.
· If you have a puppy, remember that he doesn’t have enough coat to withstand the cold, so limit outdoor time. When you take him for his fall makeover, ask the groomer to leave lots of coat length – he’ll be shedding in preparation for his adult coat, so this is no time for a shave.
· Fall is a time when many people change the engine coolant in their car. Ethylene glycol-based antifreezes can taste sweet but are highly toxic, so make sure your dog doesn’t drink out of puddles and don’t let him into the garage alone if there is stored antifreeze or spills. For your own car, consider using a propylene glycol-based coolant; though not completely non-toxic such products are less dangerous than anything containing ethylene glycol. If you suspect your dog has consumed any kind of antifreeze, call the ASPCA 24-hour poison control hotline (888-426-4435) and/or take him to the vet immediately.
· Back to school time means you stock up on fun items like magic markers, glue sticks, and colored pencils. These supplies smell delicious to your dog, so make sure your kids know to keep them out of reach. Also, with some of her favorite playmates now away for the day, your pup will likely feel lonely and bored. Leave interactive toys like Kongs filled with treats to keep her busy while she’s alone.
· Better yet, take her to doggy daycare a couple of days a week so she has her own pals; she’ll come home tired and happy.
· Check dog-related household equipment to make sure it’s ready for constant use. Your dog will shed his winter coat all the way through until spring, since indoor temps that are comfortable for us are too warm for him. It’s a good time for vacuum cleaner maintenance, since you’ll be using it a lot. Also check the collars, harnesses and leads that you’ll be using for those refreshing fall walks. Discard anything that’s partially chewed or worn to avoid your dog breaking loose. Also, make sure you have a pin or slicker brush in tip-top condition, as pup needs frequent brushing while growing and shedding winter coat.
Enjoy this fall with the kids and the family dog, whether you’re cozied in on the couch or outdoors enjoying the foliage!
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