November 17, 2015

Pet Safety During Fall Cleanup Season

Author: Kristin Skelton


Tips For Safe And Happy Pets During Fall Cleanup Season

While the weather this week has been more than deceiving, we all know it is time to gear up for the inevitable… another Chicago winter. Fall is often a time when routine maintenance is performed around the house. Surfaces may be freshened up with new paint or driveway sealer, expandable foam insulation may be used to seal cracks, and gardens and lawns may receive fresh mulch or fertilizer.

While all of these fall cleanup activities are necessary to prepare for the upcoming season change, these activities also have potential for safety risks to our family pets. Here are some tips to keep your furry ones safe as you rake those leaves and prepare for hibernation:

1. Mice. Rodenticide usage increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from cooler temperatures by moving indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets. If ingested, the results can be fatal. Beware of the the type of rodenticides in use and keep them out of reach. Or seek more non-toxic and humane traps or repellents.

2. Driveways And Other Sticky Fix Ups. Substances like fresh tar or driveway sealer, caulking, and paint may get stuck to an animal’s fur or skin or even be absorbed through the skin into the body. Most animals will lick or chew the affected area to try and remove the substance. This presents a risk if the material is toxic or irritating. Overall it is easiest to keep pets safely tucked away while you are performing these tasks.

3. Expanding Foam. There has been a rise in illnesses associated with puppies that have chewed on containers of expanding foam and swallowed the non-expanded product. After swallowing, the material expands in the pet’s stomach, causing a life-threatening obstruction requiring immediate surgery. Keep all expanding foam containers out of reach of children and pets.

4. Lawn Care. Chemical fertilizers can be poisonous when taken internally. Some pesticides are not only toxic but irritating to skin, which can be a problem if it is stuck on paws. Keep an eye out for white flags in neighbors’ yards signaling that fertilizers have been applied. We do when we walk our clients dogs! Make sure to steer clear and wipe paws thoroughly when you return home. Also, if mulching prior to the snowfall, be aware that cocoa bean mulch (made from cocoa bean husks) can be toxic if eaten, and unfortunately, its wonderful chocolate aroma may prove to be too much of a temptation for many pets.

5. Car Care. Fall is a popular time to change a car’s engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so clean up spills immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants. Though not completely non-toxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.

6. Snakes. Snakes tend to be a bit grumpy when they are prepping for hibernation, thus increasing the possibility of bites. While Illinois is not notorious for many venomous snakes, be aware and stay clear if you are venturing into wooded areas. If you are curious, there are four native venomous snakes found in Illinois, the copperhead, the water moccasin or cottonmouth, the timber rattlesnake, and the massasauga or swamp rattler. All are uncommon and are seldom seen.

7. Mushrooms. Fall and spring are big mushroom seasons. While 99% of mushrooms are non-toxic, it is impossible to decipher for sure while out on a walk. Stay away from mushrooms and if you think one was digested, contact a pet poison helpline. 1% of mushrooms are highly toxic and can cause life-threatening problems.

We hope that awareness of these potential hazards will help everyone have a safe and healthy fall cleanup season!

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