Wintertime Pet Hazards

Wintertime comes with warm fireplaces and drinks, nights spent wrapped up under the blanket, and of course, our pets to help keep us warm and feeling safe. It also brings wintertime hazards that can be dangerous to your pets. In the following article, I will discuss some wintertime hazards to avoid in order to help keep your pet safe through these cold, snowy months. For those that don’t love the winter season, hold tight as spring will be here sooner than you think.

The first wintertime tip is to be careful with icy walkways, while dogs and cats tend to have much better balance than their human companions, they can still slip and fall, spraining muscles and even tearing ligaments. Ice and snow can also aggravate Osteoarthritis and make our senior pets a little more sore and tired on these cold winter days. If you think your pet has arthritis and is currently not being treated, that there are some very effective medications and treatments out there that may help make these winter days a little easier on them. In addition, some dogs do not like to relieve themselves in feet of snow. If your dog prefers to “go” on the grass or in a particular area, shoveling that area may help them feel more comfortable to relieve themselves.

After walking your dog, it is a good idea to wash and dry their paws afterward. Salt, ice, and other materials can cause irritation to pets paws and ultimately result in inflammation and even infections. Pay particular attention to the areas between each toe as moisture can get trapped there, creating an environment for infection. Speaking of de-icing and salts, make sure to use pet-friendly salts when preparing for snow and ice on your driveway, walkways, and sidewalks. Do not allow your dog to eat or lick de-icing salts as this can create an electrolyte imbalance and make them ill.

Antifreeze can be very attractive to pets, it has a sweet taste and odor that pets seem to like. Ingesting even a very small amount of antifreeze can be fatal to our pets. Antifreeze Ingestion causes kidney failure in pets and can be extremely dangerous. Please make sure to not allow your pet to lick or drink antifreeze and be sure to clean any contaminated areas should any spill in your garage or driveway.

Cats can be susceptible to one particular wintertime hazard more frequently than dogs. Outdoor cats like to hide under the frames of cars and even under the hood to escape the cold and wind during cold winter days and nights. Be sure to check under your car for any stray cats and bang on your hood to startle a hiding cat and give them advance notice that you are about to start the engine. Cats can get very severe burns from hiding in car engines.

Some dogs like Alaskan breeds do very well in cold weather, evolution has equipped them to handle relatively cold temperatures well. Other breeds, however, are not as well prepared. In particular, with short-coated, hairless, and smaller breed dogs caution should be taken on very cold days and nights. Consider putting on a doggy sweater or coat on them before leaving the house and to limit their time outside, particularly during very cold or windy days and evenings.

Winter Hazards For Your Pets

For more information and for answers to specific questions about wintertime hazards, please call or schedule an appointment at one of our Veterinary Hospitals to speak to a veterinary professional. With a little extra care and thought, we can help keep our pets safe through the winter and back running and playing in the park when springtime arrives.

Jeffrey Stupine VMD
Medical Director
World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals