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Winter Safety Tips

Yet another winter is upon us and I would like to share a few tips to keep our pets safe during this time of year.

Car Safety

Look out for antifreeze leaks. It has a sweet taste that attracts dogs and cats. It is very poisonous and its' 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. On the flip side, you do not want to leave them in the car with the engine idling. A couple of weeks ago in Long Island, NY, a man went into a Cool Beans for a cup of coffee and left his car running. His dog knocked the gear shift 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.

According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost during snowstorms than at any other time. They can lose their scent and become disoriented and lost. Remember, a well identified dog has a greater chance of returning home.

You should use pet safe ice melt. When that is not possible, or you are unsure of what is being used; their feet should be washed BEFORE they get a chance to lick them.

Indoors

Insects will be coming into our homes for the winter. Watch for spider and insect bites and be familiar with the signs of anaphylactic shock. Insect traps tend to be baited with something tasty, so keep them out of your pet's reach.

The Holiday Season is in full swing.

Decorations

The most common plant is the poinsettia. It is toxic. Keep it out of reach of your pets.

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 can pose a problem for those pets that confuse them with tennis balls.

Garland and tinsel is a particular problem for cats. Remember to 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 can be toxic and it affects the cardio and nervous systems.

Ham, fat trimmings and turkey skin can cause pancreatitis.

Cooked bones can cause intestional 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 are toxic especially xylitol.

Holiday snack trays may contain macademia nuts and grapes.

Chocolate contains theobromine.

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.

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

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. You would 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 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.

 

 

Comments

Christein Sertzel

Wow, Mary! Excellent article!

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Indeed an interesting article, i am more than impressed.

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