Autumn can by a remarkable time for dogs and their owners. Finally, temperatures have cooled enough that you can walk your dog without being overwhelmed by heat or the fear of burning her paws-- but the chill of winter hasn't set in either. This is a perfect time to really make a point of enjoying the outdoors. Here are some tips for making the most of your outdoor time with your dog this fall.
1. Schedule your pet's annual vet visit. If it's been more than a year since your dog last went to the vet for a check-up, the change in seasons might be a good reminder. Before heading outdoors this fall, your dog needs to be screened for conditions like obesity, heartworms, arthritis, and fleas, and given appropriate preventative treatments. These will all be important in preparing your pet for the great outdoors this fall.
2. Make walks productive. If you've got kids in school, now's the time of year when they'll be heading back for the year. What a great opportunity to exercise your dog while also heading out on a mission! Bring your pooch with you while you walk your kids to school. It will provide you, your dog, and your child all with an important opportunity to exercise and bond.
3. Ease back into exercise. The summer heat this year was excruciating, so many dogs and owners eased up on exercising. Now that you'll have more comfortable time outdoors, take it slow. You and your dog might both need a few weeks of shorter walks while you work your way back up to your pre-summer level of fitness.
4. Watch out for mushrooms. According to the ASPCA, mushrooms tend to make their appearances in spring and fall. Although the vast majority are not poisonous, those that are toxic can cause serious problems for dogs. Don't let your dogs investigate any mushrooms you encounter while walking, or he might end up with a belly full of poison.
5. Make the most of afternoons. In fall, mornings and nights tend to be uncomfortably chilly, while high noon can still be a tad too hot. Part of the joy of fall is the opportunity to take your dog outdoors in the afternoon-- the time of day when you're both most likely to feel energetic and bored.
6. Get social. Dogs are innately social animals, and so are people-- so use your outdoor time with your dog this fall to make friends for both of you. Visit your local dog park or join a dog-lover's group in your area. You'll both have the opportunity to make new acquaintances while spending time outdoors.
7. Keep allergies managed. Nationwide, allergies tend to kick in for humans and pets alike during the fall. Ragweed bursts into bloom and can be intensely irritating to your eyes, nose, and skin (and the same goes for your pet). To make the outdoors more enjoyable for both of you, keep these symptoms managed. If your pet gets the seasonal sniffles, talk to his vet about giving him an antihistamine before walks.
8. Find the best scenic trails in your area. Every region has its hidden fall treasures: those areas that light up with dazzling colors as autumn sets in. Ask around about the best dog-friendly hiking trails, parks, and greenways in your area where you can see the seasonal changes in all their splendor. (Always follow local regulations for parks that don't allow pooches, of course!)
9. Look out for snakes. The ASPCA warns that many snake bites against dogs happen in the autumn, because snakes are preparing for hibernation and more irritable than usual. Find out about venomous snakes in your area and how best to avoid them. If water moccasins are a problem in your region, for example, the walk through the bottomlands might not be a good idea. Watch your step while you're on the move with your pet and call a vet immediately if he gets bitten.
10. Stay hydrated. It might not be as hot as summer anymore, but that doesn't mean you're in the clear when it comes to the risk of dehydration. Bring a pair of water bottles with you-- one for you and one for your furry friend-- even if it doesn't seem too hot out. This is especially important if you'll be hiking on a trail without immediate access to drinking water.