Enjoying Fall Walks With Your Dog
By Kelsey G., Marketing Director, Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital
The days may be getting colder, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy walking the dog as much as you would in the summer! Fall is officially in full swing with crisp air, cozy evenings, family gatherings and more opportunities to explore the great outdoors with our canine companions. The season is a welcome change with cooler weather that allows pets to be out more regularly. However, are you and your dog best prepared for the safety hazards that fall can bring? In today's blog post, we have the tips you need to stay safe to help you best benefit from this special bonding time with your pet.
As you hit the trails to enjoy the autumn season, there are things to keep in mind as the temperatures drop down. One drawback of fall is that the days do grow shorter. The decrease in daylight hours can confuse a dog's body clock, which can make them more drowsy than usual. Walking them while it's still light out is ideal. If that's not always possible, be prepared for a walk in the dark. Plan your timing wisely, have a flashlight, and break out the reflective gear for both you and your dog. This makes it much easier for you to be seen by others around you.
Hazards that appear in the fall can prove to be problematic for your pets. It's not just leaves that fall from trees, but acorns too. Acorns are harmful if eaten, along with fungi that grow in the season. More critters are also out and about on a regular basis to search for food before wintertime. Skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and other animals haven't gone into hibernation just yet! Do your very best to keep a watchful eye out and keep your dog out of harm's way.
Believe it or not, the most dangerous thing to do on your walk is being glued to the phone. If you're busy catching up on work emails or checking out the latest news, you may be too distracted to be aware of your surroundings. That's a huge safety hazard for the both of you. For instance, your dog may not be leash aggressive, but other dogs can be. Giving your full attention to your surroundings will help avoid possible altercations that your dog can have with another dog passing by.
Spend this quality time with your pup that's uninterrupted and safe from the dangers that arrive in the autumnal season. Sure, life gets busy, but your pet will greatly appreciate the undivided attention they need and deserve.
Not everything about autumn is dangerous, however. Walks in the colder seasons provide perfect opportunities for dogs to be more active after spending time inside during the hot summer. They may have even gained a few extra pounds, so why not use this time to shed off that extra weight?
By encouraging your dog to be more active at this time of year, you'll help in maintaining their weight, fitness levels, and normalizing their sleep patterns. Make sure you still take water along with you, and that your pet is up-to-date on their leptospirosis vaccine. This will protect them from disease that appears in natural water sources! Ticks and fleas do remain out during the season as well, please make sure they're protected with flea and tick preventatives.
Need ideas for parks with a change of scenery? Check out Olde Isaac Walton Park in Leesburg, a 21-acre park that features many trails and an off-leash dog park. Baron Cameron Park in Reston has separate areas for small dogs, along with community gardens and plenty of green space. Gilbert's Corner Regional Park offers spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains with 156 acres to explore. For more parks and trails in the Northern Virginia and D.C. area, visit us at Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital to pick up one of our dog park maps!
Overall, fall makes for one of the best dog walking seasons. It's time to make the most of it! Get out there while you can before the even colder months arrive. Bring the reflective gear, brush up on your dog's walking and socialization skills, and leave the phone locked in your pocket unless there's an emergency. If walks aren't always feasible during the week because the kids are in school or you're busy with work, take them over to Stream Valley's Doggie Daycare! Daycare is great for your pets to learn and socialize with other dogs around.
Our Doggie Daycare is open weekdays from 7:00 am - 7:00 pm, and puppy daycare is available from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm on Saturdays. Our kennel team is happy to keep them busy and well taken care of here at your neighborhood veterinary hospital. Call us at (703) 723-1017 to sign up. The first day is FREE for newcomers!