Now that we are in winter you need to watch for these 6 winter safety tips for pets that are lurking out there for your dogs and cats once the temperatures drop. I wanted to give you a few safety tips on things to look out for in order to keep your pets from harm.
- Salting for snow and ice: Many of the chemicals used to keep sidewalks and roads safe can be toxic to pets. Toxicity is best avoided by cleaning paws after a walk so they don’t lick off the chemicals once you get home. If you will be salting your own property choose a product that specifies it is pet friendly. You can also use booties such as the PAWZ Dog Boots which are disposable and waterproof – that’s only if your dog tolerates them.
- Freezing temperatures: I think this shouldn’t need to be said but keep your pets inside when it gets cold. If the thermostat dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit bring outside dogs inside. If you have a shorthaired dog it is a good idea to keep them warm on walks with a toasty jacket or sweater. Animals are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just like us so please protect them.
- Indoor/Outdoor Cats: Cats should always be kept inside to protect them from trauma and diseases but if you do have an indoor/outdoor cat don’t let them out in cold and inclement weather. Cats will often seek warmth by crawling up onto the engine block of a car. This is a really bad scene (usually fatal) if the cat is still curled up in there when the car is started.
- Orthopedic Injury: Dogs love running through the deep snow and don’t give much thought to racing across an icy patch of terrain. Owners must be careful when letting pups run free as they can easily pull a muscle or slip and fall. Another danger is when ice and snow accumulate between furry toes causing cuts or irritation.
Rodenticide: The cold weather drives rats and mice into our homes and without question this is undesirable. In an effort to get rid of these unwanted visitors many people will put out poison in the house and around the property. Keep this in mind, rodenticides don’t just kill rodents, they will kill any mammal that ingests it. Most rat poison is formulated to be tasty, attracting both rodents and our pets. If you must put a rodenticide make sure your animals can’t get to it, remembering that the crafty rodent often will move the poison.
- Antifreeze: This common chemical has a sweet taste so dogs and cats are actually attracted to it. If you are unaware your pet was exposed, by the time clinical signs become apparent it is often too late for treatment. The other nasty thing about antifreeze is that a tiny amount is all it takes to cause irreversible damage resulting in death. Avoid this by monitoring your pets at all times when outside your home.
I hope these 6 winter safety tips help you and your pets enjoy the cold season!
Ashley Gallagher, DVM