Winter is here and it's time for a check-up to make sure your pets are ready for the harsh weather and are protected from potential dangers.
Cold temperatures may pose exposure danger. As a rule, do not let pets out of doors for long periods of time. Make sure you are there in case your pet is not back in a few minutes. Dogs which usually spend time outside should be provided with warm and ample shelter. Make sure the water in their dish is not frozen.
Extreme cold and wind will freeze extremities (ear tips, feet, tail tip) quickly and may cause frost bite, death of tissue and loss of ear and tail parts. Long exposure may cause hypothermia (low body temperature) and death. If you go for winter walks, avoid frozen lakes and rivers. There have been numerous tragic accidents where dogs fell into the frozen water and drowned. The same is true if you have a large outdoor pool.
Antifreeze is a well known winter hazard that claims the lives of many dogs and cats. Most antifreeze products contain ethylene glycol, which is very toxic. Following ingestion, it is rapidly absorbed. Signs appear within a few hours. Typically intoxicated animals stumble, are disoriented and depressed. Vomiting is also common. Ethylene glycol damages the kidneys, causing acute renal failure (kidney shut down and inability to produce urine) and death within hours. If you suspect that your animal ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian, or go to the emergency clinic immediately. A pet-friendly antifreeze containing propylene glycol is available, which is highly recommended for pet owners.
Salt and ice melts are irritating and toxic if ingested. They irritate and burn the pet's feet, and, if licked off, may cause severe gastrointestinal injuries and brain toxicity. Make sure you wash your pet's feet after exposure and avoid contact with the products in question.
Shorthair dogs and cats have less natural protection from the cold. A sweater and socks might help them fight the winter.[Back]