Autumn Pet Safety Tips

Autumn Tips and Hazards:

Fall time means lots of upcoming holidays, leaves are changing, new plants are growing, and everyone is getting ready for the snow!  Autumn is a beautiful season in the Buffalo area, but it can come with its fill of potential dangers for our pets.  Here is a list of autumn hazards to be aware of.  If you have any questions, please call the Village Veterinary Clinic of Hamburg, 716-646-4023!

We are open for emergencies 7 days a week, 365 days a year (Doctors available until midnight daily, veterinary technicians and support staff available 24/7 for phone support and patient monitoring)!   716-646-4023!


While most mushrooms are generally non-toxic, certain types can be very dangerous. The proper identification of mushrooms is extremely difficult and often only done by experts (called mycologists). Therefore, all ingestions of unidentified mushrooms are toxic until proven otherwise. Depending on what type of mushroom is ingested, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depression, tremors, and seizures, with liver and kidney damage occurring later. Pet owners should play it safe and get rid of any mushrooms in the yard.


Mothballs typically contain either paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene. While the old fashioned mothballs (naphthalene) are often considered more toxic, both can be deadly. Symptoms include vomiting, severe abdominal pain, tremors, weakness, possible kidney or liver failure, and severe abnormality of your pet’s red blood cells.


As everyone prepares boats, cars or cabins for winter, pets may be exposed to antifreeze. As little as one teaspoon in a cat or a tablespoon or two for dogs, depending on the size of animal, can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy. There is then a phase of false improvement, but internal damage is occuring, and crystals develop in the kidneys, which result in acute kidney failure. Immediate treatment with an antidote is vital.

Mouse and Rat Poisoning (Rodenticides):

As you prepare to winterize your garage, cabin, or house, make sure to place poisonous baits in areas where your pet cannot get to them.  Because there are several different types of chemicals in mouse and rat poisons, all with different active ingredients and types of action.  If your pet has ingested any rodenticide it is important to know the active ingredient to start treatment immediately.  Unfortunately, only some of the poisonings have an antidote.

Compost bins or piles:

Piles of decomposing and decaying organic matter and molding food products in your backyard compost pile have the potential to contain dangerous mycotoxins.  These dangerous molds can cause tremors or seizures within 30 minutes to several hours or ingestion.

Red maple leaves:

While this in not a problem for your dog or cat, red maple leaves are toxic to horses.  As little as one pound of dried maple leaves blowing into your horse’s pasture can be toxic. When ingested, these leaves result in a severe hemolytic anemia – it causes red blood cells to rupture, causing weakness, pale gums, an elevated heart rate and shock.

Fleas and Ticks:

During this time of year most people will stop their flea medications because temperatures are cooling down.  Beware!  It only takes about 40 degrees for a flea and tick to come out of their hibernation.  Fleas and ticks in fact are extremely hardy insects and are capable of surviving very harsh winters.  They typically find a warm place to live during the winter months.  This can include coming into your house, garage, under a porch or deck, etc.  We often see a lot of flea issues this time of year because of untimely stopping of flea medications or because fleas thought your house were a great place to live during the winter.  Please treat all dogs and cats with appropriate veterinary approved flea medications year round.

Cold and Flu Medications:

This time of year with the change in seasons can bring on colds and flu.  The various types of medications can be very toxic to our dogs and cats.  Medications containing acetaminophen (tylenol) is a pain reliever and fever reducer in humans but is extremely toxic to cats.  It can also have severe toxic effects in dogs as well.  Dogs can have ulcers, internal bleeding and damage to their liver and kidneys following ingestion.  Cats are particularly sensitive to this medication and can develop a condition called methemoglobinemia, where their red blood cells breakdown and it results in decreased oxygen to their tissues. As little as 1/2 a tablet can be deadly in a cat.  Ibuprofen and Naproxen are also similar NSAIDs that are equally if not more toxic to dogs and cats.

Other cold and flu medications have ingredients that act as a decongestant- pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine.  They can be sold as a single active ingredient or as part of another product.  Pseudoephedrine can cause agitation/restlessness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tremors, seizures and even death depending on the dose ingested.  Be aware that if a product name is followed by “D” (Mucinex-D, Claritin-D, Allegra-D, etc), it likely contains pseudoephedrine. Make sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully to avoid mistakenly buying a version that also contains a decongestant.  Phenylephrine may cause similar symptoms as pseudoephedrine, but has a much wider safety margin. Phenylephrine is often abbreviated as “PE” on product packaging.


This time of year batteries can be commonly used with our decorations.  Batteries can be very dangerous when ingested by dogs or cats.  When a battery is punctured or swallowed, there is risk for the alkaline or acidic material to leak out, resulting in severe corrosive injury. The most common types of batteries ingested or chewed on by dogs are alkaline dry cell battery (e.g., 9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA) or button/disc batteries. Disc-shaped batteries or lithium batteries are also very dangerous due to corrosive injury.  They can be pawing at the mouth, pain in their mouths, abdominal pain, vomiting, drooling. etc.


Acorns contain a toxin called Gallotannin. Dogs usually do not ingest heavy quantities of acorns, but if they do consume a few that dropped to the ground, they may have mild to moderate gastrointestinal upset.  It typically causes mild to moderate vomiting and diarrhea.  Acorns can also become lodged in the GI tract and cause an obstruction.  This is an emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Autumn Crocus:

There are two types of Crocus plants: one that blooms in the spring (Crocus species) and the other in the autumn (Colchicum autumnale).  Spring crocus plants are part of the Iridaceae family. These ingestions can cause general gastrointestinal upset including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.

Autumn Crocus are a part of the Liliaceae family.  This contains a toxic alkaloid called colchicine. All parts of the Autumn Crocus are poisonous. The Autumn Crocus is also known as the Meadow Saffron or Naked Lady.  It is highly toxic to both dogs and cats.  It can cause severe gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, inappetance).  It can also lead to organ damage, especially in the liver and kidneys.  It can lead to respiratory failure, seizures and even death. Signs may be seen immediately but can also be delayed for days.  You should not let your pets come into contact with these plants.


This common evergreen is extremely poisonous to all species (dogs, cats, horses, cattle, humans, etc.). All parts of the plant (including the red berries) are very poisonous, as they contain taxines. There are several variety of plants in the Taxus species, including the Japanese Yew and English Yew. When ingested by dogs and cats, clinical signs of drooling, vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing, life-threatening changes in heart rate and blood pressure, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, coma and death. Recently, florists have started to use Japanese Yew to make wreaths for the holidays. As horses are very susceptible to yew poisoning, make sure not to have this around the barn or pasture!