Autumn is beautiful. Earthy smells, refreshing temperatures and vibrant colors create the perfect environment for long walks with our canine companions.

But pet parents beware! Halloween isn’t the only thing to fear this season. Keep these fall safety tips in mind the next time you and your furry friend head outside.

1. Keep him warm

In some regions, the temperature drops quickly once fall hits. Put a blanket on the porch for your dog if he spends a lot of time playing in the yard, and don’t leave him out for extended periods of time in the late evenings and early mornings. Most breeds are well-equipped to withstand cooler temperatures, but others – like Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and Salukis – are not. Help him transition slowly from the heat of summer… at least until his winter coat comes in.

2. Be careful around mushrooms

This time of year, mushrooms start popping up on forest floors and around your yard. While most of these fungi are safe to eat, others are highly toxic to your pet – and it’s best not to take the risk. Prevent your dog from ingesting them by supervising independent play and keeping him close during off-leash walks and hikes. If you suspect he’s eaten one, contact your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.

3. Watch out for wildlife

It’s almost hibernation season! This means that wild animals – like skunks, bears, and snakes – are out and about, busily preparing for their winter snooze. If you and your dog find yourself in the woods, keep a close eye out for these creatures, and mind your distance! If you live in an area that’s home to venomous snakes, consider keeping your dog on-leash until the snow falls.

4. Let there be light

As the days get shorter, it only makes sense to plan for walks in the dark. Invest in reflective gear for yourself and your dog, and check out this article on walking your dog at night!

5. Consider his joints

It’s typical for dogs with arthritis or other joint problems to experience more discomfort once the temperature drops. Keep an eye out for signs such as limping and reluctance to exercise. If your dog is whimpering when he moves, it’s time to seek help from your veterinarian. Ask about giving your dog a glucosamine supplement, which can help ease inflammation around your dog’s joints.

6. Check for ticks

The end of summer doesn’t necessarily mean the end of tick season. In fact, many species of ticks can survive well into winter. Exercise caution when playing in fallen leaves, as these blood-sucking pests thrive in damp environments. Continue using natural bug repellents, and always check your dog thoroughly after returning from the outdoors.

7. Avoid allergy aggravates

Fall allergens like ragweed and mold can cause your pet to itch, sneeze and cough all season long. The first step is avoidance – but this isn’t always possible, especially if you don’t know exactly what’s causing your dog’s allergic reactions. If you suspect he has seasonal allergies, talk to your veterinarian about getting him tested to determine the best natural treatment plan.

8. Protect his paws

Don’t forget about your dog’s paws over the next few months. Ice, snow, salt and the hot terrain of summer are the greatest dangers your dog’s feet will face. But year-round protection is key to keeping his sensitive pads in good condition. Doggie booties are a popular – and adorable – preventative solution that most dogs don’t mind. Alternatively, natural products like LifeFORCE Paw Stick are easy to apply before and after walks, and will ensure his feet are healthy by the time winter rolls around.

9. Keep his nutritional needs in mind

Chances are, your dog will be livelier now that the air is fresh. Take his activity level into account when reassessing his diet for the season – does he need more calories to account for the energy he’s expending? Should I rotate his protein to ensure he’s getting the nutrients he needs? Seek answers to these questions by talking to your vet, or check out the nutrition section of the Animal Wellness library.

10. Dog-proof your environment

Do a daily sweep of your yard to ensure it’s safe for your canine companion. Clean up rotten fruit that’s fallen off trees, as the seeds, stems and leaves aren’t good for animals to eat. Break off any bare sticks that your pet can get caught on while playing – as they shed their leaves, they also pose more of a danger to your pet’s eyes. If you’ve already put anti-freeze in your car to prepare for the first frost, be sure that no spills have pooled anywhere that your dog can access.

Keep this precautionary list for fall safety in the back of your mind… but don’t let it stop you from enjoying nature this season! Check out these fun fall activities to enjoy with your pet.

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