Fall and your pets: What to know as the temperatures cool and holidays approach


AP Photo/Susan Ragan

Otis, a bulldog, runs through the pumpkin patch at Muzzi's Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in San Gregorio, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2005.

Fall is officially here, and as the temperatures cool, it’s safer to take your furry pets outside in the neighborhood, the dog park or the hiking trail. 

But just because the weather is nicer, it’s still no picnic for your pets. Hiking trails are laden with thorns from all the prickly plants that make our desert home.  

Then Halloween is coming up, and dogs love candy. But is it good for them? And what about Thanksgiving in two months, when the kids start feeding the pups those hated green beans or that Jello-encased vegetable salad under the table, can that kind of human food hurt the animal? 

Shadi Ireifej is the chief medical officer with VetTriage and Gregory Connor is a master dog trainer at MPK9 Dog Training. Below are some highlights from their interview with State of Nevada producer Zachary Green.

On retractable leashes

Christina thinks they should be illegal because it's easy for a dog to lunge at another dog or hurt someone. She also thinks they should all be harnessed.

IREIFEJ: It's hard to make a blanket statement like that that will satisfy all situations, because there are certainly scenarios where you want your dog to have a body harness. And there are certain scenarios especially with training goals that you want to have a neck lead on them. So it really does depend on the scenario to make a blanket statement like that.

Support comes from

I've seen neck neck lead injuries that can be pretty severe. And not everybody can afford to have different types of leashes. And you also have to determine based on your own pet, what is your dog's personality like out there in public? Is it the kind of dog that stays pretty close to you? Or are they tugging on the leash and trying to get every single pet and pet owner out there? So you have to make that determination for yourself. Basically, the premise is use common sense. See how your pet is interacting with the world and figure out what's considered socially acceptable amongst us humans and then adjust appropriately.

On dog mouth cleanliness

Shirley wrote in, saying she has no pets, but thinks it's weird when people let their pets, especially dogs, lick their face.

IREIFEJ: Anybody who knows me knows I love animals, but also that I can't stand that licking thing to me. Dogs are licking everything, including their own private parts, licking the floor, and their mouths are not going to be any cleaner than ours, and arguably probably worse. They don't floss, they don't brush their teeth voluntarily, and they're always licking things, so to me, it's just a no-no. There's also a social acceptance standpoint to this just because you might be okay with your dog sharing your ice cream and licking you on the on the lips, doesn't mean that the rest of society is okay with that either. You have to have some sort of social consideration despite what you may think is okay, hygiene-wise.

On the dog-eat-dog world

Whitney called in, wondering why her mixed breed dog has a problem specifically with small, white, fluffy dogs.

CONNOR: Well, your dog's obviously a racist. No, you know, you got to understand from the dogs point of view. It could be something genetic inside, instinctive, that sees a small, white, fluffy object and it is reflective of it maybe being a rabbit or some other type of small animal that's indigenous to that area where the genetics come from. 

On how long it takes to bond

Deb called in, concerned about her shelter dog she adopted nine days ago. The dog runs away from her and hides, but will sometimes sleep on the bed.

CONNOR: I have a young trainer that I work with, and he has what he calls a 3-3-3 rule: three days, three weeks, three months. Basically, you need about three days for the dog's personality to start coming out. Okay, three weeks is when the bond starts to happen. And then three months is when the dog really starts to become part of the pack.

It really holds true, you still are at the infancy of that relationship. So just think of it as if it was a person that you were maybe a fostering a child or just adopted a child that had been in foster care for the last five years. How long would it would you give in order for that relationship to blossom, if you take your time? It sounds like you're doing a lot of things, right? And if the dog is willing to get up into bed with you, then I'm hearing that she's definitely, or he's definitely, going to become a part of your family soon enough.


Shadi Ireifej, chief medical officer, VetTriage; Gregory Connor, master dog trainer, MPK9 Dog Training

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