It's leaf season! What's better than the crunch of leaves under your feet, a PSL in your hand, and a little chill in the air?
Who else loves leaves? Your dog. You've never met a pile they wouldn't dive head-first into, but is it safe for your dog to play in the foliage? Let's talk fall, y'all.
Is it Safe to Play in Leaves?
Well, yes and no. It's probably not imminently dangerous for your dog to frolic in a big pile of leaves. Is it the most sanitary thing in the world? Nah.
Leaf piles can be the source of some pretty nasty after-effects with as with anything, you'd got to weigh the risks. We read a lot of news stories about people contracting flesh-eating bacteria from swimming in lakes, but we still go swimming!
What's the Worst That Could Happen?
A lot of things, actually! Thankfully most common leaf reactions are relatively mild and can be treated or prevented with vigilant post-care.
The longer a leaf pile has been growing, the more moisture there is at the bottom of it. Where there's moisture, there's often mold, and inhaling mold spores can cause all kinds of reactions in your dog including respiratory symptoms like wheezing or coughing.
Uh oh...are those wet leaves harboring bacteria? (Answer: Probably, yes.) Old, rotting leaves are the perfect environment for dangerous bacteria like staph to thrive. If your dog has a cut somewhere on their body, that bacteria can easily make its way in! Is it worth the risk?
Ticks & Critters:
One of the more realistic risks of leave-pouncing is ticks. As we all know, ticks harbor a plethora of diseases and viruses including the much-feared Lyme. In addition to ticks, leaf piles can be home to poisonous spiders, stinging insects, or even a rouge rodent!
With leaves come sticks; they're inextricably linked. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell when a big, sharp stick is lurking just below a leaf pile's surface waiting to impale your dog. You don't want your dog to get skin abrasions from the scratchy stuff in the leaves, but the bigger risk is corneal abrasion.
Most dogs don't happily munch on leaves but if yours is an unabashed chewer, you may want to think twice about letting them into the leaf pile. Red maple leaves are toxic to dogs when ingested in large quantities as are chestnuts and certain kinds of mushrooms.
Is there any harm in letting your dog play in leaves? It's probably fine! Just be sure they're freshly-raked, moisture free, and devoid of any sharp sticks. And after the fun? That's a great time to give your dog a bath and check for ticks while you're doing it. It's better to be safe than sorry!
Is your dog due for a checkup?