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, this protection is 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 pet’s nose, toes, and ears are more susceptible to hypothermia.

Additionally, the very 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 make 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. Additionally, 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 the ice and avoid areas where your pet may break through the ice they walk on.

Antifreeze is an extremely serious and dangerous toxin to pets. Antifreeze 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 antifreeze safely and away from your pets at all times. If you are concerned that your pet was exposed, please call World of Animals or your veterinarian right away.

While your dog or cat is cuddled up and warm in your bed, don’t forget that stray cats are outside looking for warmth themselves. Cats sometimes seek refuge underneath cars, as they offer protection and warmth. Unfortunately, starting your car with a cat still underneath can cause serious burn wounds. Remember to check underneath your car before starting the motor 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 into 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.

Wintertime Dangers For Your Pet

While wintertime brings hot cocoa, holiday festivities, and families spending time together, it can also bring hazards for your pets. Preparing for the winter is a crucial step to keeping your pet safe throughout all 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.