Keeping pets safe this autumn

PDSA offers pet owners’ advice on how to avoid toxic plants during autumn.

With summer nearly over and autumn just around the corner, the change of seasons can be a brilliant time for you and your pets to enjoy the beautiful scenery as the countryside and parks burst into colour.

It’s also important to be aware of season dangers to our pets. There are a number of innocent looking plants which can actually be very toxic and, in some cases, even fatal. It’s vital to know what to avoid.

PDSA vet Anna Ewers-Clark said: “Our four-legged friends are naturally very inquisitive and will often want to sniff out new smells and object. Knowing what to keep your pet away from can help keep them safe – and prevent any impromptu visits to the vets if they eat something that could be toxic.”

Poisonous plants to avoid:

  • Acorns– Mature acorns usually drop between September and October, but can be found on the ground for quite a while after this. Acorns can cause blockages when eaten by pets and can be toxic, especially if eaten in large quantities. They contain tannic acid which can lead to nasty vomiting and diarrhoea. Unripe, green acorns have higher levels of tannins than mature acorns so are more harmful when eaten, even in small amounts.
  • Yew Trees– every part of this tree is poisonous to pets and eating just a small amount can be very serious. They are often found in churchyards, so keep your eyes peeled there.
  • Horse chestnut trees– their bark, leaves, flowers, and conkers are all poisonous to pets. Conkers are also a choking hazard and can cause gastrointestinal blockages.
  • Autumn crocuses– these have pale mauve, pink, yellow or white flowers in autumn. All parts of the plant are highly toxic, especially the bulbs, so take extra care if your pet likes to dig

Anna adds: “When out walking this autumn, it’s crucial to be aware of any dangerous plants and trees that might cause harm to your dog. Keep a close eye on them, and try to walk your pooch somewhere you know is clear of toxic plants.

“If you know your pet has a habit of being a bit of a scavenger, you might need to take extra precautions like training them to use a basket muzzle while you’re out and about to prevent them picking up anything dangerous. It’s also a good idea to carry some tasty treats with you to tempt your dog away from anything dangerous that they might want to eat.

“Vomiting, diarrhea, shaking and abdominal breathing could all be signs that your pet might have eaten something poisonous. But even if your pet’s not showing any signs, if you know they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t, call your vet straight away.

“They will be happy to provide guidance on whether it’s likely to be dangerous for your pet and advise what you should do. The quicker you act, the quicker vets can provide essential treatment when it’s needed, which can reduce or prevent serious and sometimes, life-threatening problems for your pet.”

For more information on keeping your pet safe this autumn visit www.pdsa.org.uk/poisons.