Hazards of winter
We can all agree that winter is a wonderful time to be outdoors with your pets. While it can be beautiful and fun, there are also plenty of (sometimes hidden) hazards that you as a pet owner should be aware of. Slippery streets and sidewalks, frigid temperatures, and invisible chemicals scattered on the ground can all make your daily walk or playtime a bit of a risky proposition.
It is quite common for people to spread chemicals on sidewalks and driveways to melt ice and snow, and to give pedestrians better traction on surfaces. But these chemicals will get on your animals’ bare feet, where they can have several unwanted consequences. The chemicals can get onto the skin of feet and legs, where they irritate the skin or they can get into small abrasions in the foot pads. Cats and dogs will also be likely to lick their feet once they get back inside, and ingest the chemicals that way, resulting in stomach and intestinal problems. Make sure to rinse your dog’s paws and underside as soon as you come in from outside.
Another chemical to be careful with is anti-freeze. Its main ingredient is an extremely toxic chemical that causes a lot of accidental poisoning deaths in pets. Often we are not around to see our pet swallowing antifreeze. If the animal is not treated right away, he can experience severe nervous system and kidney damage within a short period of time. Antifreeze is particularly dangerous for our pets because it smells good and tastes sweet, but it is very toxic. The only way to prevent accidental poisoning of your pets is to keep antifreeze and other chemicals out of reach and off the ground. And don’t let your pets drink out of puddles when you are out walking.
If your dog is out in the cold too long, he could end up with frostbite on his ears, nose, paws or tail. If your pet is experiencing shivering, lethargy, slowed heartbeat or breathing after being out in the cold, he may have hypothermia. This requires emergency vet care, so call 360-896-7449 immediately.
Pets can become dehydrated in the cold winter weather if they don’t get enough to drink. We don’t think of this as a cold weather hazard, but sometimes their water dish will freeze, making it impossible to get a drink. Make sure they always have access to fresh water.
Most pet owners would never consider leaving their dog in a parked car in the summer time. That is also a dangerous thing to do in the winter months. Dogs can suffer from hypothermia if left too long in the car, so don’t take that chance.
During the cold winter months make sure to keep your dog on a leash or keep a close eye on him or her, because more dogs get lost in the winter than any other time of year. Dogs, even with their excellent sense of smell, can lose their scent in the snow, increasing their risk of losing their way home. It’s always a good idea to make sure your dog has an up-to-date ID tag on his collar, or a microchip in place.
Any questions you have about these winter safety tips or anything else related to your pets, please Contact Us at Claus Paws Animal Hospital.