The autumn can be a stunning time of year with the leaves turning colour and nature preparing to rest and restore over the winter months. Many fields are newly ploughed and hedgerows cut back. It is a lovely time to be out and about with our dogs while the light levels are still good.
With the changing season come some different challenges and things to be aware of:
Autumn is the season for mould and fungi and just as every year there will be humans who pick and eat the wrong mushrooms and can be sick or even fatally poisoned, dogs can do the same. Please do not let your dogs graze fungi, as many are beautiful but highly poisonous.
Mushrooms contain a number of different substances, which can be toxic according to the species and they can produce very varied symptoms in dogs from salivation, drooling, sickness and diarrhoea to liver damage, seizures and coma.
Pay particular attention in woodland and marshy areas where mushrooms can be in abundance at this time of year.
Seek veterinary attention if your dog displays any of these symptoms and take a photograph of the offending mushrooms if you saw what your dog was eating, as identifying the mushroom will help your vet to give the best treatment. Avoid picking them without gloves as some of the toxins can be absorbed through the skin.
Leaf litter is also a danger as it holds moisture and quickly harbors large amounts of bacteria and mould that are all part of natures system for breaking it down. Some dogs, especially pups who are discovering new tastes and textures, will eat leaf litter and get a nice gut upset as a result.
Leaves will also cover up what is beneath them, so in steep woodland stick to the tracks so you know you are likely to have land beneath your feet! Pups in particular will love jumping and playing in leaves and can sometimes get a nasty shock when the leaves are a lot deeper than they think!
Newly ploughed fields will often have sharp objects that have been brought to the surface and these can be a hazard for dogs running across these newly generated open spaces, so even if there don’t appear to be crops growing, keep your dogs to the footpaths to prevent injuries.
Be particularly alert too as prey animals will have less shelter this time of year and your dogs will be able to spot a running rabbit or hare easily across open farmland and be off if you are not vigilant!
Now that the daylight length is shortening, remember to make sure that you are visible if you are walking your dogs on the roads and footpaths especially at dawn and dusk.
The sun is very low in the sky during morning and evening rush hour in autumn and can blind oncoming drivers making you and your dog almost invisible.
Most of all enjoy it, be safe and make the best safe use of this very beautiful time of year out and about with your dogs.