When the colourful leaves first fall from the trees it is a sight to behold and the leaf piles are simply an open invitation for dogs to hide and play in. BUT as these dog-magnets become a wet, soggy mess and start to decompose, they can pose a real threat to our furry best friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t dream of suggesting we deprive them of such fun! But please just be mindful of the potential dangers highlighted below and be sure to take the usual simple precautions.
Common Dangers Lurking in the Leaves
1. Bacteria and mould-can develop in piles of leaves. If your dog ingests these it can lead to gastrointestinal upsets.
2. Mushrooms and Toadstools– We all know toadstools are poisonous but some mushrooms are also toxic to dogs. Even mycologists (the fungi experts) find it difficult to differentiate, so best to steer fido well clear of them all.
3. Insects and more – Ticks and fleas become more active at certain temperatures and they particularly thrive in woodland and grassland areas at this time of year – particularly piles of leaves that create a little hub of warmth!
They’re not the only creatures who love that environment – sow bugs/pill bugs, worms and spiders will all be sharing the leaf piles. Other residents may also include, snakes, frogs, toads and rodents. There are number of diseases that can be transmitted by rodent droppings and Leptospirosis is on the rise in the wildlife population.
Don’t let the Kissing bug steal your dog’s heart!
The Kissing bug is one deadly bloodsucker you need to be especially aware of – it doesn’t kiss it bites! – but is so called because it often bites mucous membranes, such as the lips. They’re also called cone-nosed bugs, bloodsuckers, cinches, and triatomine bugs.
Like mosquitoes and ticks, they need blood to live, from either animals or humans. HOWEVER, Kissing bugs sometimes have a parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi) in their feces that can cause Chagas Disease, which can lead to serious heart problems or disease in the intestines for your beloved pet.
Your pooch can come into contact with this in the following ways:
1. The kissing bug bites your dog then leaves infected feces in the wound
2. Your dog ingests a kissing bug, or the faces from a kissing bug
3. The parasite is passed on from the dog’s mother
4. Your dog eats an infected prey animal (e.g. rodent, opossum)
Sadly, there is no known cure for Chagas disease in dogs, nor is there any vaccine available for its prevention. Although several drugs have resulted in somewhat limited improvement, there is still a lot to learn about this disease and the prognosis is not good for any dog.
Veterinarians have discovered that infected dogs, less than six months of age, may experience clinical signs such as pale gums, anorexia, diarrhea, and sudden death.
In contrast, older dogs infected by Chagas, are often asymptomatic for long periods. However, once symptoms emerge, veterinarians have noticed that older dogs are more at risk of developing heart diseases. In addition, geriatric dogs may also develop problems with their nervous and respiratory system.
4. Acorns– The oak tree is majestic to look at but the acorns are potentially tragic for your dog. The acorns contain a toxic ingredient, tannic acid, which can cause damage to their liver and kidneys. Ingested acorns and nuts or seeds from other trees can also cause an intestinal blockage. Signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
5. Animal Eliminations– If your dog is tempted by the leaf pile, you can bet your bottom dollar there will have been other dogs before them, potentially even foxes, who will have all left their pee/poop “calling cards”. These are transmitters for a variety of diseases at worst or a foul- smelling pooch at best!
• Check them over thoroughly once playtime is over, including inside their ears, nose and between their paw pads.
• Maintain their shower/bath time regimen, although you may need to move it indoors (for both you and your dog’s comfort!) and always ensure they get dried thoroughly in a warm area.
• Clean and disinfect their dog house on a regular basis.
• Year-round flea preventative treatment is a must.
• Include a daily dose of probiotics with prebiotic in their food, to strengthen their immune system and resilience to viruses/infections.
(N.B. FidoActive Advanced Probiotics for Dogs also includes the added benefit of D.Earth (Diatomaceous Earth), which is a natural parasite and worm remover. It causes a healthy elimination of parasites and worms without chemicals.)
Wishing you and your canine companions the best of health!
Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team