Winter can be as dangerous for your pets as it is for humans, with the additional hazards provided by the holiday season. However, with awareness of these possible issues, you can keep your pet safe and happy.
Pet dangers from winter weather
Pets can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite just like humans. They, like their owners, are most susceptible to cold temperatures when they are wet. Even animals with thick coats cannot escape cold weather maladies if they are exposed to frigid temperatures for long periods, especially under wet or windy conditions. A pet with short hair has the same protection from the cold as a human wearing a T-shirt.
Also, like humans, extremities are most at risk from frostbite, including noses, ears, and feet. Feet are especially vulnerable under snowy conditions, because paws can get impacted with snow. Only allow your pet to remain outside in the snow for short periods, then bring them inside to warm themselves.
If your dog will tolerate dog booties, don't fasten them too tightly, because blood circulation may be constricted and cause an increased chance of frostbite.
Rock salt and ice melt can become impacted in your pet's paw pads. causing burns to occur. Check their pads after they have been outside on treated surfaces.
Because of its pleasant taste, dogs will drink antifreeze that is spilled or lick it from driveways after it has overflowed from vehicle radiators. Cats will lick it from their paws after walking in it. However it is ingested, it can be deadly even in small quantities, affecting major organs and causing eventual kidney failure.
Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning:
- Appearing drunk or excited
- Vomiting, diarrhea, or frequent urination
- Shaking or seizures
If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze, you must take them to an animal hospital at once. Veterinarians can give them antidotes before irreversible kidney damage occurs.
You can help to protect your pet by using propylene glycol antifreeze, which is safe for pets and just as effective as commonly used ethylene glycol, which is poisonous, and encouraged friend and neighbors to do the same.
Keeping your pets safe during the holiday season
Your home will be filled with curiosities for your pets to taste during the holiday season, so you will need to be extra vigilant to keep them safe.
Food items that are dangerous for dogs include:
- Raisins or grapes
- Alcoholic beverages
Both cats and dogs are susceptible to choking on chicken or turkey bones, which splinter when chewed.
The traditional plants of Christmas, poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are all poisonous to both dogs and cats, so you may need to choose artificial substitutions unless the plants are completely inaccessible to your pets.
Lighted decorations, both inside and out, pose a danger of electric shock from chewing wires. Ribbons can cause an intestinal blockage if consumed, so clean up all Christmas wrap after the presents are opened.
Give your pet a gift of a chew toy or catnip mouse so they will be distracted and not as tempted by all the colorful and tasty looking curiosities all around them. They want to be part of the festivities too. If you would like to read more about these precautions, visit this site.