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Winter Safety Tips

                                                     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, don’t leave your pet in the car with the engine idling. An agitated dog may knock the gear shift into drive and go for an unauthorized ride.

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, very old and immune compromised pets have little tolerance for the cold weather. All dogs needs paw protection and most need protective outerwear. Even northern breed dogs are subject to frostbite.

According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost during snowstorms than at any other time. They can lose their scent and become lost. Remember, a well-identified dog has a greater chance of returning home. Make sure the tags are readable and contain current phone with area code and a cell number.

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.

Check outdoor water bowls frequently to make sure they haven’t frozen over.


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.


The most common plants are the poinsettia and mistletoe. Both are toxic. Keep them 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. A cord got caught on a leg.

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 string out 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.

Stuffings may contain sage, onions, mushrooms and raisins.

Cooked bones can splinter and cause obstruction and laceration of the digestive systems.

Too many sweets can cause obesity and diabetes. Artificial sugar 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 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 veterinarian for rewarming instructions. This is very important so that you can prevent further pain, stave off infection and minimize the possible permanent tissue damage.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday season.




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