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Autumn Health Risks for Pets

Now that cool autumn weather is finally here, many people are spending time doing fall yard clean up and planting ornamental bulbs that will flower in the spring. Often our canine companions keep us company while we are outside working, and we thought we would post some safety concerns that arise this time of year.

Ornamental bulbs.

Plants that grow from ornamental bulbs can be a concern for pets any time of year, but their exposure is greatest in the fall due to bulbs lying around waiting to be planted, and to curious dogs digging up newly buried bulbs. Signs of ingestion of ornamental bulbs can range from mild gastrointestinal upset to other more serious symptoms, including cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, and death. The toxins in bulbous plants are more concentrated in the bulbs, therefore, ingestion of the bulb can cause more significant problems than ingestion of foliage. Toxic ornamentals include tulips, daffodils, paperwhites, hyacinths, crocuses, daylily and iris rhizomes, as well as gladiola corms.

Over the past few weeks we have had calls concerning dogs that have ingested hyacinth, crocus and daffodil bulbs. All three owners called promptly, and each of the dogs is doing well after immediate and appropriate medical intervention.

If your dog (or cat) has ingested any bulb, rhizome or corm from these plants or others, please be sure to call us here at the hospital or one of the emergency clinics as soon as possible so that appropriate treatment may be instituted in a timely manner.


Rainy fall weather provides ideal conditions for wild mushrooms to sprout up in the yard overnight. While most wild mushrooms aren't poisonous, some of them can be very toxic to both people and pets. Keep your yard clear of wild mushrooms, and call immediately if your pet has ingested wild mushrooms.


With the dropping temperatures come the stinkbugs, invading our houses, cars and garages. Our clients and staff have been frequently commenting lately that they seem to be particularly proliferative this year. Pets (especially cats) that stalk and nibble on or ingest stinkbugs can experience profuse salivation and vomiting. We had a call just this week about a kitty who caught and chewed on a stinkbug and began salivating a great deal.

Fleas and ticks.

Fleas and ticks are not just a summertime problem. Both persist well into the fall, and September, October and part of November can still be problems months. Clients who have been out hiking and enjoying the foliage with their dogs are reporting that they are still finding ticks, and we are seeing multiple patients each week that are experiencing dermatitis and itching from persistent fleas. Be sure to keep your dogs and cats on their flea and tick preventatives!


As the weather turns cold, rodents tend to venture into our garages, sheds and houses, and this leads to a more prevalent use of rodent bait and poisons. Use these with extreme caution as they are very toxic to pets. Even rodents which have ingested the rodenticides can be poisonous to pets who eat them, so be sure to dispose of dead rodents as soon as possible. Most rat or mouse baits don't cause immediate obvious symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, but cause a serious loss of ability for the dog or cat to clot their blood, sometimes leading to death if not the issue goes untreated. If you suspect that your pet has ingested a rodenticide or a rodent killed by one of these toxins, call the hospital or one of the emergency hospitals as soon as possible. Bringing the packaging or at least the name of the product to the veterinarian can help determine the appropriate medications and duration of treatment.

Chocolate and sugarless gum.

Trick or treat is just around the corner, and soon there will be Halloween hauls of fun size candy bars in most homes. (Who decided that tiny little candy bars are 'fun size' anyway?) Be sure to keep all candy out of the reach of pets. Chocolate can be toxic if ingested in high enough quantities, and pets can experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, heart arrhythmias and potentially death. Sugarless candy and gum containing the artificial sweetener XYLITOL should be stored safely away from pets. Ingestion of xylitol can cause severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), serious liver toxicity and problems with the pet's ability to clot their blood.

If you have any questions or concerns about any of the problems mentioned here, please be sure to call use here at the hospital: 603 742 6438.

We hope that following these safety tips will help you and your pets enjoy our lovely New England fall!

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