The dog days of summer are coming to an end, and many dogs – and humans – are ready to see them go! Fall is often a welcome change for dogs, just as it is for people. Cooler temperatures, new sights and smells, more time spent indoors with the people we care about… What is not to love?
Here are 3 dog-specific autumn considerations as the season changes:
COOLER DAYS MEAN LONGER WALKS
The days are getting shorter and the nights longer. Temperatures drop and the sidewalks stay cool. Many people find walking and hiking during the fall to be more enjoyable than trudging and sweating through hot summer days. Dogs reap the benefits! It is easier for dogs to regulate their body temperature in cooler weather which means they can walk and run, and play for longer periods of time. Many dogs – especially brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers have difficulty breathing in extreme heat. They prefer the cooler weather. Large breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, and most double-coated breeds like German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, and Newfoundlands find themselves much friskier in fall.
Even though it is cooler and your dog might want to walk for miles, it is still good practice to bring along water for a dog hydration station. While fall does bring more rain – and the chance of more puddles – free-standing water is not always healthy for your dog. Rainwater runoff can often contain contaminants like dirt, chemicals, animal feces, dead insects, and oil which could make your dog sick. Dogs often love the taste because it is free from the fluoride and chlorine tap water commonly in their bowl, but it is best to help them avoid an upset stomach by drinking the clean water you bring along.
“Fall is often a welcome change for dogs, just as it is for people.”
THE SMELL OF AUTUMN IN THE AIR – AND ON THE GROUND
Pumpkin spice everything, the aroma of fall favorites like roasting turkey, butternut squash, and apple pie… dogs, like people, love the odors of autumn. Outdoors, the smell of falling leaves is strong for humans and can be a sensory overload for dogs and their 220 million scent receptors! Many dogs love to chase falling or blowing leaves or roll in newly raked piles that smell like dirt. The sound of crunching leaves is also a joy for dogs!
Gone are the allergens of summer. The watery, itchy eyes and skin dogs experience with reactions to summer grass, flower, and pollen are eased. But new fall-based allergens and irritants can negatively affect your dog! All those fallen leaves, mold, and dried-up weeds may cause new problems for your pup. Specifically, acorns from oak trees may irritate your dog’s digestive system if ingested. Make sure your dog doesn’t eat anything that falls from the trees, any autumn blooming mushrooms, or planted chrysanthemums, which can make your dog sick.
FEWER FLEAS IN FALL… BUT MAYBE MORE TICKS?
Fleas love warm weather and are most prolific – and annoying – when temperatures are between 70 and 85 degrees. As temperatures drop into the 60s and 50s, fleas are less of a worry, but they don’t die off entirely. They remain dormant until spring and sometimes continue to thrive on rodents and other wild animals. It is important to continue to administer your dog’s flea medications all year round.
And while fleas become somewhat less problematic in cooler temperatures, fall is when many exposures to ticks occur. Those leaves dogs love? They can house ticks and their eggs. Collecting and removing garden litter and leaves that gather under bushes and shrubs will help prevent your dog from getting bitten. You can also use tick repellent products and should check your dog – and yourself – regularly after spending time outdoors.
Keeping these few things in mind can help make fall your dog’s favorite season. And don’t forget the cuddling! Spending time indoors together when the weather turns cool can help reinforce the bond you have with your four-legged family members!