February 20, 2024 4 min read


Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are looking at the tail end of summer. Cooler nights will soon give way to cooler days and autumn will be here. While the changing colours can be beautiful, Autumn brings with it some unique dangers to our furry friends.  Here at CanineCare Probiotic, our pet’s well-being is of utmost importance. Awareness leads to prevention, so here are some things to be aware of through the autumn.


Acorns grow on oak trees and are abundant on the ground in autumn. It’s best to avoid oak trees when walking your dog’s entirely. Acorns are a choking hazard, and they also contain a toxin called tannin which is poisonous to dogs. Signs of poisoning can involve vomiting, shakiness, excessive tiredness, red and irritated skin. If you suspect your pet has ingested acorns get them to the vet ASAP.

Wild Mushrooms

Mother Nature offers up a plethora of wild mushrooms in the autumn. The increased damp coupled with the remaining warmth creates the perfect conditions for them to sprout up in parks and bush and all sorts of places we love taking our pups for big walks. Not every mushroom is a hazard, however it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between safe and unsafe. Best to stay clear entirely and keep a good eye on your animals when out and about. A bad mushroom can cause illness or death, so if you suspect they’ve eaten something, take them right to the vet, and if possible, bring a sample of the mushroom or at least a description to help narrow down the treatment path. 

Karaka Berries

Karaka berries (Corynocarpus laevigatus) are highly toxic to dogs if ingested. The berries contain a potent neurotoxin called Karekin, which can cause severe illness or death in dogs and other animals. Symptoms of karaka berry poisoning in dogs may include vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, seizures, and neurological symptoms.

It's crucial to prevent dogs from accessing karaka berries or any part of the karaka tree, including leaves and seeds. If you suspect that your dog has ingested karaka berries or encountered any part of the karaka tree, seek veterinary attention immediately. Treatment may involve inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal to absorb toxins, providing supportive care, and monitoring for complications.

To keep your dog safe, avoid walking or allowing them to roam in areas where karaka trees are present, and promptly remove any fallen berries or plant material from your property.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins are known to be toxic to dogs, though the exact mechanism of toxicity is not fully understood. Even small amounts can lead to severe kidney damage or failure in some dogs. Symptoms of grape or raisin toxicity in dogs may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weakness, dehydration, and ultimately, kidney failure, which can be fatal if not treated promptly.

It's crucial to keep grapes, raisins, and any products containing them out of reach of dogs. This includes foods like grape jelly, grape juice, and baked goods containing raisins. If you suspect your dog has ingested grapes or raisins, contact your veterinarian immediately, even if no symptoms are present. Treatment may involve inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal to absorb toxins, intravenous fluids to support kidney function, and monitoring for complications.

Prevention is key to keeping your dog safe from grape and raisin toxicity. Be vigilant about not feeding your dog any foods containing grapes or raisins and educate family members and guests about the dangers of these foods to pets. Additionally, ensure that grapes and raisins are securely stored where pets cannot access them, and be cautious when walking your dog in areas where wild grapes or grapevines may be present.


New Zealand has 9 native tick species, as well as introduced species like the Cattle Tick. They’re still quite prevalent through the autumn and smaller pets like dogs, cats and bunnies are quite susceptible to them as they are likely to be in environments where ticks live regularly. Smaller animals are also more prone to tick infestations. Tick bites can cause discomfort, rashes and skin issues and anaemia.

Rat Bait

Every year around autumn into early winter Kiwi vets face many cases of dogs ingesting rat poison. Many people, as well as larger organisations, set rat bait to control pest populations. Unfortunately, many dogs find these baits tasty, or are big fans of the corpses of rats that have eaten the poison already. Rat bait is primarily an anti-coagulant, so the biggest signs are blood in urine or faeces, from the nose or internal signs like pale gums, laboured breathing, lethargy, bruising and seizures. Get them to a vet immediately. Treatments change depending on time frame, and the sooner the better, as this can be fatal.


In this part of the world Easter falls in autumn. Many, if not most, people celebrate Easter with chocolate. Bunnies and eggs, every festive shape can be a danger to dogs. They contain theobromine and caffeine, which are poorly metabolised by dogs. The darker the chocolate, the worse for your animals. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing issues, seizures and death. Even a small amount can make them very unwell and will require a quick trip to the vets. Chocolate is a danger year round, but during Easter much of it ends up in the hands of small kids, and so might end up dropped or left laying around by accident. Vigilance is especially important at this time.


 Although not common in NZ it is worth mentioning as they can be an ornamental shrub in our gardens  Conkers come from the Horse Chestnut tree and are obvious by their spiky green and brown casings. These are a choking risk, and also contain a toxin. This one is called Aesculin and leads to many of the same symptoms as acorns, but can also include increased thirst and excessive drooling. Another one to rush to the vet for.


By staying informed and taking proactive measures to keep our dogs safe, we can ensure that this season remains a time of joy and adventure for us and our beloved four-legged friends. With a little awareness and precaution, we can all enjoy the crisp air, vibrant colours, and cozy moments that autumn brings, knowing that our canine companions are protected from harm. Here's to a safe and delightful autumn season for you and your dog!