Orchard Vet's Blog

Autumn Hazards for Pets


As the seasons change so do the hazards to our pets – here are some things to look out for this autumn


Antifreeze contains Ethylene glycol which is a sweet-tasting chemical that can cause fatal damage if ingested. The first signs of intoxication may be that your pet appears ‘drunk’ up to 12 hours after ingestion. There may also be drooling, vomiting, lack of appetite and excessive or very little urination.

Ingestion of antifreeze can result in kidney failure. If you believe that your pet has ingested antifreeze call us immediately as the prognosis becomes less good the longer the delay between ingestion and initiation of treatment.

Conkers and acorns

Ingestion of conkers or acorns can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain and sometimes intestinal blockages. Exposure to acorns in dogs is common in the autumn and winter with signs including vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy.  Conkers contain a chemical called aesculin, and acorns contain gallotannin both of which are toxic to dogs and can liver and kidney damage.

If you think your dog has eaten conkers call us straight away – treatment ranges from rehydration to surgery.

Darker evenings

As the evenings get darker earlier you may want to consider LED collars, leads or harnesses for your dogs to ensure they can be seen in the dark. Cats are harder to spot by drivers, so make sure they have reflective collars or maybe even consider keeping them indoors during the darker hours.

Glow sticks

Ingestion of the chemical mixture within luminous jewellery and glow sticks can cause dribbling, frothing and foaming at the mouth, vomiting and stomach pain. Thankfully, although the signs can look dramatic, ingestion is unlikely to cause significant problems. Always keep glow sticks out of reach of your pets!


Consider taking your dog for a walk early to avoid groups of trick-or-treaters, and consider keeping cats indoors once it gets dark. At home, a safe den away from the door so pets can retreat should trick-or-treaters come knocking on your door. Be mindful of pumpkin placement to avoid any accident that could cause fire or burns, and make sure to throw your pumpkin away before it gets mouldy.

Though it may be tempting to share your Halloween haul with your furry best friend chocolate is highly toxic for dogs, cats and rabbits. Ingestion can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and even seizures. In extremely rare cases chocolate ingestion can result in heart failure, coma or even death.

If you think your pet has eaten chocolate call us immediately. It’s handy to keep the packaging too as it will help our vets establish the amount of toxin ingested.

Rat poison

One-off exposure to products bought in garden centres often does not cause problems. However, repeated exposure to products or exposure to professional rodent baits can cause disruption to cats' and dogs' blood clotting ability and result in massive haemorrhage (bleeding). The effects may be delayed for several days with blood-clotting tests needed to determine if your pet is at risk of developing problems.

Treatment involves giving an antidote and in severe cases transfusions of plasma or whole blood. If you think your pet might have ingested rat poison call us immediately.


Some mushrooms are highly toxic to dogs and can cause kidney and liver failure if swallowed. Even some fungi experts (mycologists) find it difficult to tell which mushrooms are poisonous and which are so it’s best to keep your dog away from wild varieties.


As well as causing stress, fireworks can scare cats and dogs into running onto busy roads. Try to soundproof your house on bonfire night and keep windows and doors closed when fireworks are going off. For particularly anxious pets, call us as early as possible to discuss options available to you.

If you need veterinary advice or care outside of our opening hours, call Vets Now on 0121 439 1172