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10 Surprising Autumn Service Dog Safety Tips

by Kea Grace

The leaves are starting to change, there’s bit of a chill in the air and many people are pulling out their trusty hoodies and apple cider recipes. Fall is a beautiful time of year, but it can take a little prep work to enjoy.

Here are 10 autumn safety tips to keep in mind for your service dog as you both begin to enjoy this wonderful time of year.

1. Intriguing autumn scents.

Ahhh, the scents of autumn – cinnamon, spices, apples, candy corn, smoky fires, pumpkins and earthy leaves. For many people, the scents of fall are their favorite part, but don’t forget that not everything is safe for your canine partner. Always supervise your service dog around candles, bonfires, sweets, hot drinks or anything else that may not be safe.

2. It’s not cool to dress inappropriately.

Like you might tell a middle-schooler who refuses to wear a jacket, it’s not cool to dress inappropriately for the weather. There’s a chill in the air! If it’s too cold for you to be outside without a jacket, it may be too chilly for your canine partner, particularly if he has a thin coat or very short hair. Always dress the both of you for the weather.

3. There could be dangers lurking under the leaves.

The leaves are changing… and with the gorgeous autumn color changes come falling leaves. Leave-strewn lawns, parks and pathways can mask potential dangers, like sharp rocks or broken glass. Always be aware of where your service dog is walking.

Keep service dog safety in mind this fall season.

4. Light up the night.

Days are shorter. With dark falling at a far earlier hour, it may be prudent to get your partner a light to attach to his collar or reflective gear for safety, especially if your daily routine means you must walk or exercise your canine partner after the sun goes down.

5. Make sure your dog’s tags are up to date.

Double check your service dog’s identification and tag information. With holidays right around the corner, many people’s social schedules pick up, and there’s a lot of coming and going. If your partner gets out or gets lost, his tag is his ticket home.

6. Socialize but don’t overload.

Be selective about attending holiday or autumn functions with your service dog, particularly Halloween events. Events can be highly stressful for you and your service dog; be careful not to overload him.

7. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real.

Busy schedules combined with early sunset can lead to mood changes during the fall months. Make sure you continue to give your canine partner physical and mental exercise – it’s good for both of you. Statistics vary on Seasonal Affective Disorder because most people don’t see their physician about it. About 10 million Americans are estimated to have some form of SAD and it is four times more common in women than in men.

The holiday season can be stressful for people with disabilities and their service dogs.

8. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean heartworm isn’t a concern.

Keep up with your service dog’s monthly heartworm treatment. Just because it’s colder outside doesn’t mean your partner isn’t at risk.

9. Boots for working dogs aren’t cute accessories.

Consider boots for your canine partner, especially if you do a lot of walking outdoors and/or if it snows in your area. Not only is snow and ice hard on your service dog’s feet, but the salt cities use to control it is especially brutal.

10. Don’t overdo treats.

Keep an eye on your service dog’s weight and snacking, especially if he is a brace/mobility dog. It’s easy for weight to creep upwards during the fall and winter season.

[Originally published by; reprinted with permission.]

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