Pumpkin spice everything is back at Trader Joe’s, that means fall must be here! We get a lot of seasonal questions from our pet parents as the seasons change. Does my pet really need flea and tick protection during the fall? Can I leave my dog in the car now that it is cooler? How much winter weight gain is too much? Is pumpkin pie good for my dog? Separating the fact from the fiction can be difficult, so here are a few myths and the cold facts to keep your dogs happy, healthy, and falling into the season without any issues.

Myth: I can feed my dog pumpkin pie filling for an upset tummy.

Fact: You can feed your dog canned pumpkin for stomach upset and discomfort but not the sugary, raw,  and spicy pumpkin pie filling. Generally speaking, a dog with soft or loose stool may find comfort in having a teaspoon to tablespoon (depending on size/weight) of canned pumpkin with their meal. A tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin added to food is a good source of fiber yet is low in calories. Be careful when picking it up at the store, we often get calls where Fido was accidentally give the pie filling.

Myth: My dog is safe in the car during cooler months. 

Fact: Do not leave your dog in a car unattended. Just this week I got into my parked car in Folsom where it was over 100 degrees, even though it was just 81 outside! Cars can still act like a greenhouse when left in the sun and not only that, but a dog alone in a car is subject to theft.

Myth: Fleas and ticks go away in the fall and winter.

Fact: Fall and winter months do not eradicate fleas and ticks. In fact, last winter a hiking friend of mine found two ticks on her dog in February – in Colorado! Fleas and ticks will make a home beneath piles of leaves or other shelters in your yard. Although fleas may not always survive in winter temperatures outside, the warmth of home means fleas gravitate towards indoor comfort where they can affect pets. We recommend year round flea and tick prevention to make sure infestations won’t happen.

Golden Retriever

Myth: A dog’s pads protect them from all elements of weather.

Fact: Though a dog’s pads contain much fatty tissue that does not freeze as easily as other tissues, protection against scuffing, scraping, cutting, and ice damage is crucial in fall and winter months. Ice cubes and “snowballing” may occur in the delicate areas between toes and pads. Be careful on long hikes, especially if you are heading up to enjoy the snow Sierras this winter.

Myth: I can slack off on cleaning my dog’s teeth as we get into the fall and winter months.

Fact: According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. If pet parents don’t attend to the dog’s teeth, oral disease can hit the kidneys, liver and heart, and seriously affect a dog’s quality of life. Don’t forget to brush your pet’s teeth. Be sure the toothpaste is made for pets, such as CET brand toothpast. Dogs cannot spit, and the enzymes that make human toothpaste foam are bad for them.

Myth: I don’t need to check my dog’s food since I store it properly.

Fact: Just like all you farmers check the hay to make sure it is stored safely, do a double check and ensure the dog’s food is fresh and properly stored. For dry food: ALWAYS look for “best used by” or “sell by” date to ensure freshness. Store in sturdy plastic or metal containers with a lid. Make sure containers are sealed and airtight. For cans of wet food: Store in a cool, dry place. Once opened, use plastic lids (we carry them in the clinic) that fit over the can for storage in the refrigerator. Do not reuse after two or three days.

Bulldog in autumn

Myth: My pet should gain some extra pounds in the cooler months to help keep warm.

Fact: Not all pets should gain weight to “stay warm.” An overweight animal is more prone to heart disease, cancers, diabetes and a host of ailments, not to mention a decrease in metabolism. Dogs should stay active with indoor games, brisk walks, and activities to stimulate their bodies and minds all year long, and it’s a good excuse for us to stay busy too!

Have a happy Autumn season everyone!