Winter and cold weather presents a series of fun sports but also challenges to humans and also to our pets. The American Kennel Club (AKC®) highlights things to be careful of in frigid times:
• Beware of Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol): Antifreeze is a liquid that is added to a car’s radiator to prevent freezing. This is extremely toxic and can be deadly even in small amounts. It tastes sweet but can cause severe kidney damage and failure. Seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY if suspected ingestion!
• Wipe off paws or have a bucket of water at door/dog boots: The snow- and ice-melting products used on sidewalks, driveways and roads are among the biggest threats to your dog’s paw pads. Ice-melting products aren’t just a threat to feet — if your dog licks his paws or gets into a container of de-icer the ingestion may lead to digestive system upset such as drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. To prevent your dog from ingesting de-icer and to reduce irritation to his paw pads, wipe off his paws with a warm, damp towel immediately after coming in or dunk them in a small bucket of water and thoroughly dry paws. A pair of well fitted dog boots is the best protection from the elements. Dogs don’t always take to them easily so start slowly, one paw at a time.
• Be aware of what your pet can tolerate and is acclimated to: Young, old, small/toy, health compromised pets have lower tolerance for very cold weather, especially in sudden changes. Consider properly fitted sweaters for those dogs that may need them (older, small, recent haircuts, etc.). Use sweaters, boots, coats to provide added warmth for dogs who may need it but never leave them on your dog unattended.
• Don’t leave pets unattended outdoors for an extended time: Hypothermia is a very real concern because it slowly creeps up and can be life threatening. if a dog must be outside for any period of time, make sure there is adequate protection from the wind, have their beds elevated off the ground and make sure there is good bedding insulation such as straw or cedar shavings.
• Pets get lost in winter more than any other time of year: After heavy snowfalls, disorientation due to loss or landmarks, inability to smell certain scents, loss of boundaries (low fences, etc.). Make sure they are in a secure area or on a leash.
• Dangers for cats too: Cats love to find a warm place to sleep and sometimes that place is under the hood of your car. Consider knocking on the hood or honk the horn before starting the car.
For more information on responsible dog ownership, visit the AKC website at www.akc.org.
© American Kennel Club