10 Ways to Keep your Pet Safe This Winter
1. Take special care with Antifreeze. Buy antifreeze that does not contain ethylene glycol. Antifreeze is very toxic due to this chemical component. It is sweet and tasty to pets, and lethal even in small quantities. Buy brands that do not contain ethylene glycol, such as Sierra®, and be sure to keep all antifreeze out of reach of your pets. Even antifreeze without ethylene glycol is toxic in large quantities.
2. Protect your pet’s paws. People often place rock salt on sidewalks and driveways during the winter. It is important to wipe snow and ice off your pet's feet – even clean between the toes – after outdoor walks. Be especially sure to clean paws of lime rock salt or calcium chloride salt, both of which can cause vomiting and diarrhea if the animal licks it. We recommend that you use a salt alternative to de-ice your walks such as Safe Paws.
3. Prevent Frostbite. Frostbite is injury to tissue that occurs when an animal is exposed to freezing temperatures (often accompanied by high winds). Keep your pet warm – provide warm bedding indoors. Minimize exposure to cold temperatures, especially pets that are used to being primarily in warm climates or indoors. Provide good bedding and warm doghouses for outdoor dogs. Severely cold temperatures are intolerable for even the toughest of pets. When the temperature is below freezing, consider allowing your pet to spend some time indoors. Consider adding a doggie door to the garage or basement door to allow safe escape from severe temperatures.
4. Beep Your Horn. Cats often curl up in warm engines in the winter and suffer severe injury from the fan belt when the engine is started. Beeping your horn before starting your engine can warn the cats away.
5. Use Care with Candles. Candles are often part of the winter ambiance. Candles are also one of the leading causes of house fires. They can be knocked over by jumping cats, running dogs and wagging tails. Ensure the candle is well weighted with a dome to protect pets. Do not leave the room when there is a lit candle.
6. Keep an eye on the temperature. When it falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's best to keep your pet indoors. Short-haired dogs, cats and puppies should be kept indoors when the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Keep snow from piling high next to your fence. A packed snowdrift will provide a boost for your dog to jump over the fence and escape the safe confines of your yard.
8. Make sure you groom. Keep your pet's coat well-groomed during the winter. Fur that's matted won't properly protect your pet from the cold.
9. Pets get itchy, dry skin too. If you pet is dry and itchy during the winter, talk to you veterinarian about adding a nutritional supplement or changing your pets diet.
10. Do not leave a dog in a locked vehicle in winter. Although it may appear to be warmer in the vehicle, temperatures can drop very quickly.
For more pet health information you can visit our pet health library on our website: www.penbayvets.com.
PenBay Veterinary Associates is Midcoast Maine’s only veterinary practice accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. Our mission is to enhance the human-animal bond by offering exceptional service, education, and care to help our clients provide a safe and healthy lifestyle for their pets. Services include: laser surgery, on-site bloodwork, ultrasound, echocardiograms, video otoscopy, ultrasonic dentistry, x-ray, health wellness exams, skin and allergy care, emergency services, and medical and day boarding. We are conveniently located on Route 1 in Rockport between Yankee Clipper and Plants Unlimited. For more information visit www.penbayvets.com or call 594-8300.