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Each season has its own pitfalls and hazards, and autumn is no exception. The most frequent of the autumn hazards are typically related to the ingestion of toxins, both natural toxins and man-made. The reaction to these toxins can vary depending on the type of toxin ingested and the amount that was absorbed.
The dropping temperatures in autumn also trigger many wild animals to start preparing for hibernation, making them restless and irritable and while encounters with large or venomous animals such as bears and snakes have obvious dangers, interactions with smaller hibernating animals such as rodents may trigger infections. Even bees and wasps may be more aggressive this time of year, leading to more stings.
The autumn months have their share of seasonal hazards, ranging from toxins to cold weather. Preventing the majority of the dangers of autumn can be achieved with a little extra vigilance.
Ingested toxins can be common in the autumn, and it is important to be able to recognize the signs of poisoning. Signs that your pet ingested a toxin could include any of the following:
Exposure to cold - Although the temperatures in fall are not typically as low as they are in the middle of winter, they can still get quite chilly in the autumn months; dogs with thin or very short coats or sensitive feet should be properly outfitted with coats or booties
Ingested toxins - There are several toxins that are found more frequently in the autumn months; fall is a prime time for both non-toxic and poisonous mushrooms to grow, and toxic chemicals such antifreeze and rodenticides tend to be employed more often as the temperature starts to drop (dogs may also be more likely to be exposed to candy containing chocolate or xylitol during the fall holiday of Halloween)
Freedom to roam - Pets that are allowed to wander off leash or out of sight are more likely to run across wild animals or eat something toxic like rodenticides, poisonous leaves, or mushrooms, or drink from water puddles contaminated with antifreeze
Temperature extremes - For dogs that are susceptible to the cold, protection from the elements will help prevent chills and joint pain; dogs can also run into problems being curious about lit fireplaces and working heaters
The examination and testing methods utilized to diagnose the patient will be dependent on the type of hazard that was experienced and the symptoms that are exhibited by the animal. Most visits will start with a thorough physical examination, which will typically include standard diagnostic tests, such as a complete blood count, urinalysis, and a biochemical profile.
During the physical examination, your dog’s doctor will check to see if there are any wounds present and information about the animal’s breathing and heart rates may be very revealing. The diagnostic tests will rule out any infections, evaluate the health of the patient’s liver and kidneys, and may uncover any toxins in the bloodstream, and the examining veterinarian may also choose to evaluate the dog’s blood gasses. If there are any suspicions that the internal organs are involved at all, imaging techniques like x-ray technology and ultrasound imaging may be utilized to better visualize the abdomen and chest area.
The treatment for the dangers that are more likely occur during the autumn months will differ somewhat, depending on the type of hazard they have encountered. Many of these dangers will require veterinary care to correct, and dogs that are in distress when they are brought into the clinic will have supportive treatments administered, which could include the administration of intravenous fluids, both to prevent dehydration and to allow the veterinarian to correct any imbalances that are found, and possibly supplemental oxygen if the patient is having trouble breathing. Treatments will vary from there depending on the circumstances and symptoms. Burns and external wounds from bites or scratches from wild animals will be cleaned and treated, and dogs that have been bitten by a wild animal will also be tested for infections and given any appropriate medications to fight whichever infections or venoms are found in the system.
Dogs that have recently ingested a toxic substance may need to have vomiting induced, or a gastric irrigation completed to expel as much tainted material as possible if they are not vomiting up the substance on their own and activated charcoal will be administered to soak up as much toxic material from the stomach as possible.
The prognosis for dogs that have encountered the dangers of fall will again depend on the danger encountered. Certain toxins and venoms that are more frequently found this time of year will cause only mild gastric upset and can be recovered from quickly, while others are fatal even with aggressive treatment. Most of these situations can be avoided by being vigilant about your canines surroundings.
It is also worth remembering that your animal’s diet may need to be adjusted when seasons change. Canines that spend a great deal of time outdoors may need to have their caloric intake increased to compensate for the dropping temperatures, while dogs that are susceptible to the cold may be kept inside more and get less exercise during these months, leading to a decreased need for calories.
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