Jumping into a big, heaping pile of leaves is a quintessential part of fall fun for kids and kids-at-heart. But should we let our dogs partake in the fun?
Unfortunately, it’s pretty risky. Certain types of leaves are toxic if ingested, and pesky critters like fleas and ticks may be lurking in a pile.
But dogs just want to have fun, and sometimes, Fido will jump in (or run through) a big pile of leaves. Dr. Carol Osborne of Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic shared what to watch out for, when not to worry and how to keep your pup safe.
Why jumping into a pile of leaves is dangerous
It may seem like harmless fun, but letting Fido jump into a pile of leaves can lead to a mountain of problems.
“The biggest thing with the leaves is you should avoid letting your dog jump into piles of leaves that have been sitting around for a while as opposed to fresh ones. Mold, ticks, snakes, branches and bacteria could be in there,” Dr. Osborne says.
But that’s not the worst of it. Red maple leaves, particularly if they are wilted or dried, can destroy a dog’s red blood cells if ingested.
“This can cause anemia, kidney damage, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and without treatment shock can ensue,” Dr. Osborne says.
Chestnuts and branches can cause intestinal blockage, and oaks have butyric acid, which is bad for the kidneys and livers.
And if the leaves are moldy, your dog may experience allergies.
“Mold allergies can cause runny eyes, itchiness, scratching,” says Dr. Osborne.
My dog jumped in anyway, what can I do?
Dogs will be dogs. If your pup jumped into a pile of leaves and you’re not sure what he got himself into, give him a bath when you get home.
“Check for anything topics,” Dr. Osborne says. “Brush out the fur to make sure there’s nothing in there.”
Watch out for signs of allergens, diarrhea, vomiting, blurry eyes or lack of coordination, which are signs the dog may have ingested a leaf and needs to be checked by a vet.
Also, examine the pup for ticks.
“I tell my clients to check for ticks every morning and night to run hands all through the dog’s body from the head to the tail,” Dr. Osborne says. “Ticks have to attach for 24 to 36 hours before they are capable of transmitting diseases to your dog as well as to you.”
Seriously?! Can I ever let my dog dive in?
Under certain circumstances, it’s OK to let your dog jump into a pile of leaves.
“A nice fresh pile that you’re sure doesn’t have any surprises because you’re out there raking, that’s fun,” Dr. Osborne says.
How can I protect my dog?
Though you can’t vaccinate against the potential damage from eating leaves, pet parents can help mitigate some risks, like fleas, ticks and worms.
“Be on a monthly preventative,” Dr. Osborne says.
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