As we reach the midpoint of October, my favorite part of the season is here. The weather dips a bit, leaves change, and crisp outdoor air becomes a refreshing relief from the humid Summer. I just love fall. But with this time of season comes some dangers for your dog.
Some Hazards Lurk
Back in the day vets used to advise dog owners to up the food intake as the weather cools. The belief was that the colder weather requires burning of extra calories and thus more kibble in their bowl. But in recent years, that’s changed.
More dogs are becoming obese and not getting enough activity as is. So unless you’re really upping the activity level with longer walks, you can keep feeding them the same amount.
There are some breeds that just love the Fall. My friend’s Akita could sit outside in cool 45 degree weather all day and loves it. Her coat is made for this. But others with smaller, short haired breeds, there is a concern about keeping them warm. This is especially the case if they’re going to be outside for long durations.
Dog coats have come a long way over the years. Just looking at the selection from Pet Life, some feature 3M insulation, plush cotton and materials that block the wind. Perhaps my favorite are those coats that are weatherproof. Being wet and cold is a recipe for disaster for not only yourself, but your dog. I highly recommend something that is waterproof.
Keep Up with Flea and Tick Treatment
If you’re like me, the Fall season means hiking and camping. But unfortunately, this is the time of year where ticks and fleas thrive. Don’t let your guard down and make sure your pup is prepared just in case.
Shorter Days, Longer Nights
As the seasons change, our days shorten. Instead of that 6pm walk being done with the sun up, it’s now pitch black. Adding some sort of reflective lighting to your dog is a great idea. These can be found on coats, boots, or collars. There is even some neat lighted leashes I’ve seen. Just make yourself visible to cars.
You also need to keep an eye on what they’re doing outside. Don’t let them eat some poisonous mushrooms or roadkill while you’re not looking. Walking your dog in the dark requires more attention.
This can be a time of season where wild animals start to get desperate. Attacks from coyotes, raccoons, foxes and others can be deadly. So make sure your dog is being attended to outside and not left alone as bait. Especially if you live near the wilderness. PetMD has a nice article on protecting your pet from these sometimes predators.
Skunks are also out in full force looking for grubs. As a kid, my dog got skunked one night. It is not something you ever want to deal with. That smell will take weeks to get out of your nose. And it’s an awfully unpleasant experience for the dog. Especially if they take that spray to the eyes, nose, or mouth.
With the dangers out of the way, let’s talk about some of my favorite fall activities with my dog.
I’m one of those people who hate hot weather. So when things cool down, I’m excited to get out of the house and moving. That means long walks on the trail. I’ve found my dog just loves these. All the new smells and exercise do wonders for his mental and physical health.
Playing in the Leaves
My dog loves leaves. Rake them into a pile in the yard and he’s going to dive in like a kid in a ball pit. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with lots of trees, do yourself a favor and play with your dog in the leaves. Burying a ball inside can be a blast.
Ok, this one isn’t as much for the dog as it is for me. In fact, finding a costume he tolerates can be an experience all in itself. But ultimately, we’re sharing quality time together and he adores all the attention the costume gets. There are tons of online stores offering up Halloween gear, but note that most don’t accept returns (for obvious reasons).
Some communities have events where dogs are allowed. Mine even has a costume contest for the dogs.
I hold off on taking trips over the Summer in a car with my dog. Always concerned about him overheating when I have to step out for a few minutes. But in the fall, I can open up the windows a crack and feel fine.
Fall also turns out to be a great time for vacationing in the Midwest. Apple and pumpkin orchards have become more dog-friendly over time and make for great experiences. The pet friendly beaches are less packed meaning more space to run. And if you want to get adventurous, heading out on to the lake or river can be fun as long as your dog is equipped with a life jacket.
Happy fall season to everyone out there. Enjoy the cooler weather, fresher air, and Halloween candy!