Fall Toxins

Cooler weather is coming, and with it comes long walks, beautiful fall leaves, and apple cider. This season stay informed, as weather and human habits change the types of toxins pets are exposed to. Here are a few of the major risks to pets during the fall.


In the fall, increased rain causes mushrooms to flourish. Many of them are very toxic, especially to pets. Mushrooms can cause a whole range of signs from vomiting and diarrhea to kidney and liver failure or injury to the nervous system. Any mushroom that does not come from the kitchen should be considered toxic, and ingestions should be considered an emergency.

Compost Piles

Uncovered fall compost piles may grow certain types of mold that contain tremorgenic mycotoxins. Eating even small amounts of these can cause seizures and tremors in pets. In addition, corn cobs or fruit pits in compost piles can cause intestinal obstruction which may require surgical intervention. Save the earth, and your pet – keep compost piles covered and well managed.


Fall rodent control can mean disaster for your pet. There are many different types ingestible rodenticides and they can cause your pet to bleed uncontrollably and have respiratory distress or seizures. Rodenticide ingestion is an emergency that can quickly become fatal, and the quicker you get your pet to a veterinarian, the better.


Going into fall, a common chore is to refill the antifreeze level on automobile and boat radiators. Many of these products contain ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to pets. Attracted by the sweet taste, pets will ingest even the smallest puddle that may have spilled on the ground. With this toxin, every minute counts, as pets can go into life threatening renal failure very quickly. Early signs include vomiting, lethargy and stumbling, and the quicker a veterinarian can administer an antidote the better–treating within 8 hours of ingestion in dogs and 3 in cats has the best outcome.

Moth Balls

There are different formulations of moth balls, and all are toxic to an extent.  The most toxic of the three are ones that contain napthalene, which upon ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, and progress to seizures and severe blood loss.


This fall, keep your pet safe so you can enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful leaves together. If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, get help sooner than later. It’s always easier, less expensive, and safer for your pet to be treated earlier. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline® immediately at 855-764-7661.


Written by:

Joshua Place, DVM student extern

Oklahoma State University, Class of 2023