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There is something comforting about the season of fall. Typically, many of us begin seeing leaves change into beautiful colors, and cooler temperatures become more common. Your pet probably welcomes the crisp Autumn air too, after the hot and humid “dog days” of summer.

However, the fall season can also bring out hidden dangers for our furry friends; colder temperatures, seasonal food, and household toxins that can all pose as potential safety threats to our pets.

As you and your family enjoy the season and transition to colder weather, be sure to keep your pets in mind and consider the following fall pet safety tips to ensure your pet stays healthy and safe all season long.

General Fall Safety 

Back to School and Work

Fall is the time of year that many students go back to school. The ASPCA is reminding students and parents to keep all school supplies out of the reach of curious paws. This year specifically, more people are attending school and working at home on a daily basis. This increases the likelihood of school (and office) supplies being left throughout the house.  

While most school supplies are not highly toxic to pets, it is still better to be safe than sorry. Chewing on batteries, Sharpies, markers, or glue can spell trouble for your furry friend. Be sure to check your surroundings and pick up anything that your pet could potentially reach. 

Protect your Pets from Accidental Escapes

Fall kicks off a busy time of year that often includes holiday celebrations. If you plan on having family in and out of your home this year, make sure your pet cannot escape through the main entrance. You may want to designate a sanctuary room for your pets.  Make it a place where they feel most comfortable and keep them in there with some of their favorite toys when guests are arriving and leaving. You can also consider putting up a pet or baby gate between your pet and your front door.

Inform your Guests about your Pet

If your pet is afraid of other people or tends to be reactive to strangers in your home, you should share this with all prospective visitors. This way, if your furry friend attempts to make a run for it, your guests can be on the lookout and be more cautious when arriving and leaving. 

Temperature Safety Tips

Keep your Pets Hydrated

Fall temperatures tend to vary based on your location. One night you may be preparing for a frost advisory, while the next day can be reminiscent of early August. Just because the calendar says the season has changed doesn’t mean your furry family member should be drinking less. Remember to always fill water dishes with clean, freshwater frequently.

Don’t Leave your Pets Outdoors for Long Periods

It may not be winter yet, but outdoor temperatures can get cold, particularly at night. If you feel cold, chances are your pet does too. Keep in mind that puppies, senior pets, smaller animals, and those who are immunocompromised have a hard time regulating their body temperature. 

Dress your Pets for the Weather

If you live in a cold climate or you have a pet who struggles to stay warm outdoors, help him or her out by dressing them in appropriate clothing needed for your outing. You can check your local pet stores for jackets, rain jackets, or sweaters for your furry friend to wear to help keep them warm. 

Add an Extra Blanket to their Bedding

We all like to add an extra blanket or comforter as the nights get chillier and our pets are no different. Dogs and cats can also benefit from a little extra insulation in their crates, beds, or wherever they like to get some rest.

Outdoor and Yard Safety

Remember it is Still Tick Season

Walking through fallen leaves or playing in piles of raked leaves is one way your pet can pick up ticks. Make sure you are still diligent about your furry friend’s preventative and tick repellent. Always be sure to check your pet for ticks after spending time outdoors.

Take care if Using Rodenticides

The ASPCA reminds pet owners that the use of rat and mouse poisons increases during the fall.  As temperatures dip, rodents try to seek a more comfortable environment by moving inside your home. It’s important to remember that rat and mouse poisons are highly toxic. If these poisons are ingested by your cat or dog, it can be deadly. If you must use these treatments, be sure that they are put in an area where they are out of paw’s reach. 

Safety Hazards when Cleaning up your Yard for Winter

Keep all lawn and garden products, as well as yard and compost waste, in secure containers so that your pet cannot access them.  

Remember, the Days will get Shorter

The daylight will become shorter as we move further into the season. This means morning or late afternoon walks will become darker. Keep in mind that while you can see motorists, they may not see you and your pet. For the safety of you and your pet, always be aware of your surroundings and wear bright-colored clothing. Having your pet wear a reflective collar or harness is an important step to take to be sure that they can be seen by others and remain safe. When you can, try to take walks while there is still daylight.

Halloween Safety

Think Safety First if you are Dressing your Pet in a Costume

You can keep it simple and still be clever.  Banfield Pet Hospital suggests trying a bandanna or decorative collar on your pet as opposed to a full-body costume. However, if your pet likes wearing a costume, make sure you choose something that fits properly and does not restrict his or her movement, hearing, or breathing.

Steer Clear of Costumes with Dangling Pieces or Extra Parts

Extra décor means more items for your pet to explore. We all know our pets explore with their mouths – so try to avoid costumes that have hanging fabric or buttons. Any extra pieces on a costume could pose a choking hazard or, if ingested, could cause a blockage.

Make Sure your Pet is Visible if Going out on Halloween Night

If you plan to take your furry friend out with the kids on Halloween night, make sure he or she is wearing something reflective. If your pet is dressed up, look for a costume that reflects when light shines on it. Otherwise, a reflective collar or blinking lights will do the trick.

Keep your Black Cat Indoors for the Halloween Festivities

Black cats have long been the objects of superstition. They have been considered bad luck, evil, and have even been associated with witchcraft. While black cats are no different than other cats, there has been more mistreatment of black kitties around the Halloween holiday. Some animal shelters choose not to adopt out black cats or kittens during the month of October to ensure their safety.  Your safest option is to keep all cats indoors on Halloween night, as they can be difficult for passing motorists and pedestrians to see.

Food Safety

It’s important to always be aware of seasonal treats that might pose a threat to your furry friend. Fall is the beginning of the holiday season that are commonly filled with edible hazards for pets. 

Some of these potential hazards include: chocolate, cooked bones, onions and garlic, alcoholic beverages, raw bread dough, and candy containing xylitol, the artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Consider having a plan in place to keep potentially hazardous food out of your pet’s reach during the holiday season. 

Remember, some commonly used fruits such as raisins and grapes can also be toxic to pets even in small quantities12. If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number immediately: (888) 426-4435. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.