Wintertime Pet Hazards

With wintertime approaching, different threats and hazards can put our pets at risk. Fortunately, with a little early preparation and care, steps can be taken to keep our pets safe and healthy throughout the wintertime season. In the following article, I will discuss common pet wintertime hazards as well as steps to prevent your pet from getting the “chills” when it’s cold and snowy outside.

While our pets are wearing their self-made fur coats to keep warm, it’s not perfect. Extreme weather events can trigger hypothermia, especially in short coated or hairless breeds or when a pet’s coat gets wet. In particular, your pets nose, toes, and ears are more susceptible to hypothermia. In addition, the extremely young or older pet will be more at risk from the cold. Try to limit outside time for your pet on extremely cold days, and be sure to dry off your pet thoroughly after coming back inside.

De-icers used to prevent sidewalks from freezing present another hazard to your pets. Ingesting salts can be toxic and cause electrolyte imbalances.  In addition, prolonged contact may damage your pet’s paws. Always remember to use pet-friendly salts and wipe your pet’s paws thoroughly after coming back inside. In addition, ice can cause cuts, scrapes, and abrasions on your pet’s paws. Make sure to walk your pet in areas away from ice and avoid areas where your pet may break through ice they are walking on top of.

Anti-freeze is an extremely serious and dangerous toxin to pets. Anti-freeze tastes sweet so pets are naturally attracted to it. However, it causes acute kidney damage and can easily be fatal if ingested. Even small amounts of ingestion can have catastrophic consequences. Always make sure to store anti-freeze safely and away from your pets at all times. If you are concerned your pet was exposed please call World of Animals or your veterinarian right away.

While your own dog or cat is cuddled up and warm in your bed, don’t forget that stray cats are outside looking for warmth themselves. One of the places cats seek is underneath cars as they offer protection and warmth. Unfortunately, starting your car with a cat still underneath can cause serious burn wounds. Always remember to check underneath your car before starting to make sure a furry little friend isn’t hiding underneath.

What about coats, rubber booties, and other clothing items to keep my pet warm? These items can be used but must be done with a bit of caution. In particular, make sure that booties are placed securely but not too tightly as to cut off circulation. Always remove these items when coming back in the house to prevent them from getting caught on things and to prevent moisture forming underneath. Moisture trapped under a boot can lead to both bacterial and fungal infections.

While wintertime brings hot cocoa, holiday festivities, and family’s spending time together, they also bring hazards for your pets. Preparing for the winter is a crucial step to keeping your pet safe throughout the snow, ice, and cold. Using caution during extreme cold and inclement weather will help keep your pet safe and prevent wintertime hazards throughout the season.

Jeffrey Stupine, V.M.D