(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
Autumn is a great time to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors in the company of your favorite four-legged friend. The temperatures have cooled down and the fall colors are starting to appear, yet it’s not too cold to enjoy a brisk walk or even a leisurely stroll together. It’s also a fun time to enjoy holidays and treats with your pet — as long as you know what’s healthy for them, and what’s not.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for enjoying the changing season with your furry best friend this fall.
DO enjoy long walks or hikes with your dog. Like humans, dogs need exercise, and they don’t usually get enough of a workout just hanging out in your backyard. Whether you opt for a fast-paced walk or jog, or a longer, more relaxed walk around a park, chances are you will enjoy it almost as much as your dog does. And it’s good for both of you! Stop to play a game like fetch with your pooch once in a while, especially if you’re starting to feel worn out but your dog still has pep. You’ll both come back home relaxed and happy.
DON’T let your dog off the leash unless it’s permitted, such as at your local dog park. Even then, know your dog and his or her behavior, and let that be your guide; if you have difficulty controlling your pet around other dogs or unfamiliar humans, a leash will also help keep your pet safe from harm.
DO let your dog frolic in your piles of leaves as you’re cleaning up the yard this fall. While it may take you longer to complete your task, your dog will have a ton of fun — especially small-prey hunting dogs that like to burrow, such as terriers.
DO check your dog thoroughly for ticks after spending any time outdoors, and do this just outside the front door, to avoid bringing any pests inside. You can get advice on tick removal and prevention from your veterinarian.
DO let your dog enjoy occasional treats that are made especially for dogs. Some are created to celebrate the season, like Purina’s limited edition treat — Beggin’ Strips With Real Pumpkin. Real meat is the first ingredient, and they are also made using real bacon, with no artificial flavors or FD&C colors. Your dog will enjoy the flavor of real pumpkin, just like you do.
DON’T let your dog eat table scraps, no matter what holiday you’re celebrating. According to Dr. Kurt Venator, chief veterinary officer at Purina, many holiday favorites, from chocolate, grapes and raisins to ingredients like onions, can be hazardous to a dog’s health. Another very harmful ingredient for dogs is xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in things like gum, mints and candy. Even a small amount of xylitol can be very hazardous to dogs.
DO consider making or buying an outdoor dog house for your four-legged pal, if you don’t already have one. While dogs still enjoy spending time outdoors year-round, it’s a good idea to provide some shelter from rain, cold and wind as the season heads toward winter. The internet and your local home improvement store are great resources for DIY dog house building plans and materials. This is also a great project to involve the kids.
Enjoy your pet during this festive season by sharing the best of the weather and appropriate treats with your dog. Make the most of the season so you’ll both have great memories to last you through the colder days of winter ahead.
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)