Protect Your Pets During the Winter Season

Karen Mounts

With the onset of cold weather, it would be a good time to spare a thought for our cuddly friends, as there are some hazards that we should pay particular attention to.

One of the most obvious and yet least thought of is protection from the weather, particularly cold. If you have outside pets, ensure that their shelter is located somewhere dry, preferably elevated, so that water cannot seep in; that it is protected from wind and that some kind of bedding is provided, cedar or pine chips, hay, newspaper, blankets: all make excellent insulators.

If they are indoor pets remember when you let them out to potty to limit their exposure to extremes of temperature, a good rule of thumb is “If you are cold, they are cold.”

Most of us are aware of the hazards of antifreeze. Relatively small doses of sweet tasting ethylene glycol can cause lethal kidney failure and metabolic acidosis when ingested. There are several brands of “low tox” antifreeze that, while substantially safer when swallowed, in large quantities can still cause death from metabolic acidosis.

An antidote is available for antifreeze but early recognition and treatment are crucial to your pet’s survival. A far better solution is prevention, having your antifreeze changed by professionals or not draining used coolant into pans or the sewer will keep your pets a lot safer.

A relatively little known hazard that can often be highly toxic is baking chocolate As little as a quarter pound can cause severe problems in mid sized dogs and possible death in little ones.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten any of these hazards contact your vet or emergency clinic immediately. The ASPCA’s Poison Control Center can be reached at 1-800-548-2423.

My thanks to Dr Mike Freeman, DVM and Pam Wilson, RVT, Med, CHES of the TX Dept of State Health Services who contributed the source material for this article.