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The days are shorter, the nights colder, and the snow has begun to fall. Winter is here and with the change in season come all new concerns of winter hazards for your furry friends. As pet owners, sometimes we need to be reminded of the many environmental and seaonal hazards out there for our pets to get into. It is up to us to be aware and make the good choices to keep our four legged loved ones safe. If left to their own devices, most pets will happily eat, chew, and play with all of the dangerous stuff that they are not supposed to.
Watch Out For Those Pesky Plants!
There are some seasonal plants that that are beautiful to look at but can be poisonous to most dogs and cats. Poinsettias are an example of a common winter plant that is generally not deadly, but does cause some significant GI upset such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Holly, however, is a more toxic plant and can be fatal if an animal eats a large enough amount. Luckily, this plant is very bitter making it unlikely that a curious pet will eat a fatal dose. Lilies of almost any variety are very poisonous to dogs and cats. Lily toxicity effects kidney function and is potentially fatal to the animal that eats them. If your pet has been caught chewing on any of these plants or other household vegetation and is showing signs of illness, contact your veterinarian for medical care. Not sure if the plant in question is poisonous? You can call animal poison control or visit their web page for more information on poisonous plants and treatment concerns.
Antifreeze Can Be A Killer
Antifreeze or Ethylene Glycol is found in cars and often used in our homes during the colder weather to avoid frozen water pipes. This substance can be deadly in very small doses. One lick of a contaminated puddle or toilet can be enough to shut down the kidneys of a small dog or cat. Early symptoms, within the first 6 hours, resemble drunken stumbling but can quickly progress to renal failure as soon as 12-24 hours after ingesting. If you even suspect any potential exposure to antifreeze, seek medical attention ASAP. Early intervention is the key to survival after exposure to this common household product.
Cold Temperature Challenges For Our Pets
With the cold weather comes snow and new environmental challenges. The colder temperatures can aggravate arthritic joints, making our companions stiff and more unsteady on their feet. Slick and slippery surfaces caused by wet and icy conditions can be very hard on older, arthritic dogs. Sometimes booties, such as UltraPaws, can help an unstable pet find traction and avoid painful tumbles outside or in the house. It goes without saying that proper housing and water source is essential for the outdoor dog or cat as temperatures drop and water freezes. Older pets that were once happy to be outside may have a difficult time regulating their body temperature and therefore be more sensitive to chilly extremes. There are some great choices out there for heated dog houses or beds, heated water bowls, and comfortable, warm pet outerwear.
Salt: Good For Icy Conditions, Bad For Feet
Salt, while helpful in dealing with the slippery ice, can be harmful to your dog or cat’s feet. Some animals will suffer ulcerations to their pads and feet after walking over a salted path. Ingesting the salt products by licking of the feet can lead to GI upset and in some cases, more serious illness. Careful cleaning of your pet’s feet after going outside will help avoid these difficult situations. Many stores now sell pet friendly de-icer melts that are less caustic to the skin and GI tract. There are a variety of products out there that may use chemicals other than the typical salts and are safer on the feet but do not melt the ice well. Look for the pet friendly labels when purchasing winter ice melting products but be aware that common sense washing of the feet and avoiding salted areas is the best solution to avoiding problems.
Enjoy The Seasons While Keeping Safe
So, enjoy the snow and the chill in the air while keeping in mind how to best keep your furry companions safe from the hazards of the season. Before you know it, the days will become longer and fun in the sun will be just around the corner with its own set of cautionary tales.