By Dr. Veja Tillman, DVM

It’s officially Fall. The leaves are changing color, the weather is more pleasant, and the holiday season is upon us.
We love this time of year and so do our pets. We must make sure that we protect our pets from hidden dangers
of this season. Below are some tips to help keep your pets safe during the autumn months.

Rodenticides (Rat Poisons)

As the days are getting shorter and cooler, mice and rats will begin looking for a place to call their winter home.
They are notorious for getting into garages and sheds to protect them from the elements over winter. To control
unwanted visitors many homeowners will put out rat poisons. If you use these products in your home, make sure
to keep them out of reach of pets. These chemicals are toxic and potentially deadly for your pets. There are
several different types with different active ingredients. Whether your pet eats the poison directly or your pet
ingests a poisoned rodent each of the products has the potential to kill your pet.

If your pet has ingested a rodent or rat poison, they should be taken to your veterinarian immediately. Make sure
to bring the label from the product (or a picture of the entire box) with you so your veterinarian can determine
the right course of treatment for your pet.

Remember, when placing this product around your home make sure to keep it away from all your pets and quickly
pick up any deceased rodents around your yard to prevent accidental ingestion and exposure to these poisons.

Plant and Mushroom Poisoning

Mushrooms tend to pop up around this time of the year. While not all mushrooms are poisonous, it can be hard
to tell which ones are safe. For this reason, it is best to consider all mushrooms growing in your yard or out in
nature poisonous.

If you see mushrooms growing in your yard, pick them from the root and throw them out. Scan your yard for
them frequently as mushrooms seem to pop up overnight. Also, look out for mushrooms when you take your pets
for a walk.

If your pet does munch on a mushroom, call your vet immediately. Mild toxicity can cause gastrointestinal upset,
like vomiting and diarrhea. Severe toxicity can cause neurological, kidney, and liver damage, or even death
depending on what type of mushroom was eaten.

Chrysanthemum flowers, although very pretty, are toxic. If your pet ingests any part of the chrysanthemum plant
it can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, unsteady uncoordinated movements, and skin

Any part of the Autumn Crocus plant is extremely toxic to your pet. It can cause multi-system organ damage to
the lungs, stomach, kidneys, liver, and nervous system. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, vomiting,
diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, weakness, seizures, and even death.


Fall is usually the time when some pet owners change the antifreeze in their vehicles to keep them running
smoothly. But this product is highly toxic and should be kept far out of your pets reach. Antifreeze contains a
chemical called ethylene glycol and pets are attracted to its sweet taste. However, if a pet ingests even a small
amount, there can be serious, and even fatal, consequences. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or
uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy.

If you fear your pet has ingested antifreeze, take them to your veterinarian or your local emergency hospital
immediately for treatment with an antidote to prevent acute kidney failure.

Clean up spills of antifreeze immediately. You may also consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants.
They are not completely nontoxic, but they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.

If your furry kid has had contact or ingested any of the items on this list call your veterinarian for help
immediately. If your pet has been exposed to something, you are not sure of and it is not on this list, contact
one of the Animal Poison Centers below.

Pet Poison Help Line (855) 764-7661
ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435

Thanksgiving Foods

Thanksgiving is often a time to enjoy family, friend and best of all food! Most common foods enjoyed during this
time include mashed potatoes and gravy to stuffing, casseroles and who can forget the turkey. While we love to
enjoy and share these foods with friends and family, it is best not to share with your pets. These foods are usually
loaded with fats, onions, raisins, nutmeg, and other spices that may be harmful to your pets. Pets who eat these
items are at risk of developing pancreatitis or other disorders of the stomach. These conditions can be painful
and potentially fatal.

It is also best to not allow your pet to chew on leftover bones. Bones can splinter and cause internal damage.
They may also become stuck in the stomach or digestive tract or cause obstruction which may require surgery to
remove it.

Avoid an emergency hospital visit during the holidays by keep your pet away from the dinner table.


Whether you are sipping a hard apple cider or enjoying your favorite mixed drink, pets should never be given
alcohol. It depresses the nervous system and can also be damaging to the kidneys. Warning signs your pet has
consumed alcohol include vomiting, disorientation, and difficulty urinating. Other more serious signs include
collapse and coma. Call your vet immediately if your pet has consumed alcohol. The best remedy is to not expose
your pet to alcohol.

Call your veterinarian if you notice your pet is acting lethargic or has vomiting or diarrhea. These could be signs
your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t have. Talk to your veterinarian, even if you are not sure you
should bring your pet in for evaluation.

Stay safe and keep your pets safe.


Dr. Tillman is a 2002 graduate of Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. Her veterinary practice and
work experience focuses on patients at emergency and critical care centers in Southwest Florida. She is the owner of Just 4 Pets Wellness Center and can be reached at 239-270-5721 or

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