Autumn Safety Tips for Dog & Cat Owners

By: Brianna Gunter | Updated Oct 5, 2023

The leaves are changing colors, sweltering temperatures are fading, and pumpkin spice is swirling around every coffee shop — fall is here! The season brings plenty of new opportunities for activities with the whole family, but they also come with a host of autumn hazards for dogs and cats.


A French bulldog standing in a yellow rainjacket in fall weather


In fact, many of the things we humans enjoy this time of year can be harmful to our pet’s health if we’re not careful. But don’t worry — Trupanion's Pet Parenting team has your back. We’re here to help guide you and your pal through the season with this essential list of risks for pets during fall.

9 fall dangers for pets to avoid

Whether you have a dog or cat, it’s important to make your furry friend’s safety a top priority this autumn.

1. Leaf piles and fall flowers

Those piles of leaves and compost may look fun for pets (dogs in particular) to romp around in, but watch your pal carefully—these piles can contain a variety of hazards. From mold and pesticides to hidden sharp objects like sticks and gardening tools, practicing caution is a must. Acorns likewise contain tannins that can cause mild illness in pets.

If you like fall flowers, take extra caution. Autumn crocus is considered highly toxic to both dogs and cats, and ingestion can result in severe gastrointestinal issues. Keep pets far away, and seek veterinary care right away if you think your pet has eaten it.

Are fall leaves toxic to dogs and cats?

Tree leaves are typically not considered toxic to pets. However, the leaves of certain trees—like red maple and oak—can irritate your pet’s digestive system and may even cause vomiting and diarrhea if consumed in large quantities.

2. Fleas and ticks

Another reason to keep pets out of leaf piles is the risk of fleas and ticks. While often thought of as summer nuisances, they thrive in fallen foliage thanks to the buildup of moisture. Keep on checking pets for ticks every time they finish romping around outdoors, and give both dogs and cats a monthly preventative flea treatment as part of their routine care.

3. School supplies

It’s back-to-school time for the kids! In addition to making sure they have everything they need to start the year off right, you’ll also want to ensure they’re keeping their supplies in safe places at home. Dogs in particular may view small objects like erasers and pencil tips as treats, but the last thing you want is to have to rush them to the emergency vet for gastrointestinal upset or blockage.

While you’re at it, take steps to prevent pet separation anxiety when school starts.

4. Halloween candy

Chocolate, gum containing xylitol, and other seasonal goodies are a hallmark of fall, but they can cause serious illness and toxicity in your pet if ingested. When Halloween rolls around, be sure to remind children to keep their candy in a safe place, preferably in a sealable container that dogs and cats cannot open.


Fall Halloween candy and decor that is dangerous for pets

5. Seasonal allergies

Many people think of seasonal allergies as occurring during spring, but they can thrive in fall as well. And it’s not just humans who are affected. Dogs and cats can experience reactions to everything from grass and fall flowers to changing foliage. So, if you noticed your pet is excessively licking, scratching, or exhibiting other signs of allergies, it’s time to make an appointment with their veterinarian.

Dog breeds most prone to allergies

Allergy diagnosis rates in canines have shown that some dogs are more prone to seasonal sniffles than others. The breeds most at risk include:

6. Candles and fires

Candles around the house and bonfires in the yard embrace the cozy feeling of the season, but with pets they can be a dangerous combination. Cats in particular may be at risk when candles are left burning on shelves and tables, and your feline friend may not realize the dangers of tiptoeing around open flames. Dogs likewise cannot be expected to practice caution on their own when running or playing around campfires.

To prevent disaster, always set up barriers between pets and open flames, and keep a close eye on dogs and cats at all times. You may also want to consider switching to electronic, fire-free options.

7. Alcohol

With the cozy season underway, many of us enjoy warming beverages and spice-filled seasonal cocktails. Although alcohol in general may not seem like the type of thing that’d be particularly enticing to your pet, the unique smells (and sometimes toppings) of seasonal drinks may pique their interest.

While alcohol poisoning in dogs and cats is uncommon, it is serious and can potentially be fatal. Keep all alcoholic beverages under close watch these season and out of reach of pets.

8. Parties

For many sports fans across the U.S. and Canada, the arrival of fall signifies the start of football season. Add that to Halloween and harvest festivals, and this time of year overflows with opportunities for at-home parties. But be careful. In addition to certain party foods and serving items being potentially harmful to pets, it’s easy for us humans to get caught up in the excitement and lose track of their whereabouts.

While you definitely shouldn’t sacrifice gathering with friends and family for snacks and TV-watching, it is crucial to keep an eye on your pet at all times. These kinds of gatherings come with a wide range of fall dangers for cats and dogs alike:

  • Plastic silverware
  • Toothpicks and/or skewers
  • Chicken bones
  • Chocolate
  • Corn cobs
  • Alcohol
  • Pitted fruits
  • Plastic wrap
  • Hand sanitizer

9. Cold weather

Depending on where you are, you may or may not already be concerned about protecting your pet during autumn weather. While this time of year can stay relatively mild in many areas around North America, it’s important to know that fall temperatures often start plunging at night. This is worth keeping in mind you have a habit of bringing your dog on before-bedtime walks or letting the cat out to explore.

Even daylight hours can be surprisingly chilly in fall, especially by windows. Always make sure your furry friend has easy access to warmth and plenty of cozy, safe spots around your home to curl up in.


A norwegian forest cat sitting on a log in autumn


Protect your pet from fall surprises

Even the most cautionary pet parents can’t predict what the changing seasons will bring. Unexpected illnesses and injuries can happen at any time, so consider protecting your dog or cat with a quality pet insurance policy if you haven’t done so already.

Learn more with these common pet insurance FAQs.


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