Yep, winter is here. As with any change of seasons, it brings a different set of dangers for our pets.
Watch for antifreeze leaks. Its sweet taste attracts dogs and cats, very poisonous, and the bright green color is a DEAD giveaway. It cleans up easily with soap and water.
Outdoor cats looking for warmth frequently sleep on car engines. Banging loudly on the hood before starting your engine should rouse them.
Leaving your pet in your car while you shop at the mall is like leaving them in a refrigerator. The car retains the cold and your pet could suffer from hypothermia. A great way to gauge the interior temperature of your vehicle is with a temperature window cling. Easily sourced on Amazon. On the flip side, you do not want to leave them in the car with the engine idling. A couple of years back, a Long Island, NY man went into a Cool Beans for a cup of coffee and left his car running. His dog knocked the gearshift into drive and proceeded to go for a ride. He ended up IN the business next door. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
The Great Outdoors
Animals that spend a lot of time outside need more food. In particular, a higher protein diet is required.
The very young and the very old have little tolerance for the cold weather. Provide them with outerwear for both body and feet.
According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost during snowstorms than at any other time. They can lose their scent, become disoriented and lost. Remember, a well-identified dog has a greater chance of returning home.
Use pet safe ice melt. When that is not possible, or you are unsure of what is being used; wash their feet BEFORE they get a chance to lick them.
Insects will be coming into our homes for the winter. Watch for spider and insect bites and familiarize yourself with the signs of anaphylactic shock. Insect traps are baited with something tasty, so keep them out of your pet's reach.
The Holiday Season is in full swing.
The most common holiday plant is the poinsettia. It is toxic. Keep it out of reach of your pets. Both Pet Poison Helpline (www.petpoisonhelpline.com) and the ASPCA (www.aspca.org) has a database of toxic plants and phone apps.
Chewing on electrical cords can cause cardiac arrest. Tripping on electrical cords can cause broken body parts and sudden blunt force trauma. (OK, maybe more of an issue for me.) Dogs chasing after something have been known to be dragging a Christmas tree behind them after a cord was snagged on a paw.
Glass ornaments pose a problem for those pets that confuse them with tennis balls.
Garland and tinsel is a particular problem for cats. Remember; never pull it out of your cat, as there may be an ornament hook at the other end.
Pine water is poisonous to pets. Fertilizers and pesticides will leach out into the water bowl.
Holiday Food and Drinks
Alcoholic beverages can cause intoxication, coma and death.
Coffee, tea and other caffeine products contain theobromine. It is toxic and affects the cardio and nervous systems.
Ham, fat trimmings and turkey skin can cause pancreatitis.
Cooked bones can cause intestinal obstruction and lacerations of the digestive system.
Stuffings may contain sage, onions, mushrooms and raisins.
Too many sweets can cause obesity and diabetes. Artificial sugars cause a fatal drop in blood sugar, especially xylitol.
Holiday snack trays may contain macadamia nuts and grapes.
Chocolate contains theobromine.
A list of the most common people foods that cause problems for pets is found at both Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA’s website.
PRO TIP: Broccoli can cause digestive upset and VERY gassy pets. You may want to keep that to a minimum unless you want your guests running for cover. Of course, if your guests have overstayed their welcome, then broccoli is the way to go.
You also want to provide your pets with a quiet place during the holiday parties. Even small gatherings can be stressful for them.
Cold injuries are caused by extreme or prolonged exposure to low temperatures. The most common areas affected are the tail, ears, paws and scrotum. A snout to tail assessment is always a good idea after coming in from the outdoors. Check for ice and salt in the pads and for any signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
The skin can become swollen, red and very painful. In later stages, it can become hard and pale. Additional signs of frostbite and hypothermia include shivering, slow or shallow breathing, lethargy, decreased heart rate and gums either pale or bluish in color.
If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, you should first make sure the pet is out of the cold. DO NOT RUB THE AFFECTED AREA. The frozen ice crystals in the skin can lacerate the skin cells. Contact your vet for rewarming instructions. This is very important so that you can prevent further pain, stave off infection and minimize the possible tissue damage.
I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday season.
©Mary Oquendo Spirited Dog Productions www.SpiritedDog.com www.PawsitivedEd.com