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Watch out for Winter Hazards

By January 15, 2013 Safety

While many pet may enjoy the snow, winter can come with it’s fair share of hazards.  Here’s a brief refresher for all the pet owners out there 🙂

  • Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or stolen, injured or killed. Also, puppies do not tolerate cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter – frequent short trips should be adequate. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only as needed for short periods.
  • Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. On a cold day, a parked automobile can become a freezer in no time.
  • Dry your dog’s legs and stomach after an outing in the snow to keep them warm.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash. During a snowstorm dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during winter, so update your dog’s ID tags, and consider a microchip implant.
  • Coolant and anti-freeze are lethal to dogs and cats. Clean up spills immediately and if you have a radiator leak, get it fixed right away. Anti-freeze poisoning is lethal, just one ounce can destroy the kidneys of a Labrador Retriever. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. They are slightly more expensive, but worth the piece of mind.
  • Another danger in winter is chemical ice melts. These cause irritation to the skin and, if ingested (licked off the paws), stomach upset and nervous symptoms. If you dog walks on treated sidewalks, bathe the feet or wipe them with a damp towel as soon as you return home. Instead of ice melts, use sand or clay kitty litter.
  • During the winter, many outdoor cats sleep under the hoods of cars for warmth and protection. To ensure the safety of both the cat and your car, bang on the hood of your car and wait a few seconds before turning on the engine. Keeping cats indoors can prevent this scenario from occurring to your pet.
  • Even though dogs sport an insulating fur coat, they can run into trouble in frosty temperatures. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s warming mechanisms can’t keep up to its loss of heat, and core body temperature falls below normal. Small dogs are at the greatest risk for hypothermia because compared to larger dogs, they have a greater surface area based on body weight. Some dogs can acclimatize to low temperatures by growing thicker coats and burning calories faster, but even these dogs can succumb to hypothermia if temperatures drop low enough, or wind speed increases.
  • Another winter issue is snowballs that collect on the feet. When a dog first goes outside, the warmth of his body melts the snow coming in contact with is feet and hair gets wet. The water refreezes as his feet cool, allowing snow to stick and accumulate. Foot snowballs can become very large and uncomfortable. To thaw snowballs, use a hair dryer on a low, WARM, NOT HOT, setting or submerge the foot in BODY TEMPERATURE water. After the snow is removed, check the feet for cuts or frostbite. To prevent snowballs from accumulating, keep the hair under your dog’s feet trimmed flush with the pads or consider boots.
  • If your pet is housed outside, make sure that adequate shelter is provided to shield from wind, moisture and cold. Take extra care to ensure that your pet is comfortable and can get into and out of their housing easily. Several pet and feed stores carry safe, heated floor mats or non-electric warm bedding. Deeply bedded straw is another good insulator. Do not use a heat lamp or other type of home heater – this is dangerous and can be the cause of a fire.
  • Pets need fresh water at all times. Be sure the water is not frozen during this time of year. Heated pet bowls are a solution for frigid temperatures. These bowls are very handy to have during the cold winter months.

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