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 is lethal even in small quantities. Buy brands that are labeled pet safe and do not contain ethylene glycol, such as Sierra®. Just in case, 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 cleaning 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. 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. Provide good bedding, warm doghouses, and fresh water 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 your dogs on leash and wear reflective clothing at night. In the winter dogs can lose their bearings due to snow and high snow banks; more dogs are lost during the winter than any other season. Keeping them on leash keeps them safe, especially when around frozen ponds where the ice may be thin.  Because of shorter daylight hours, more dog walking takes place at night, so be sure to wear reflective, visible clothing.

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. Long nails can be torn easily on ice, so make sure to keep them nice and short.

9.   Pets get itchy, dry skin too.  If you pet is dry and itchy during the winter, talk to your 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.

PenBay Veterinary Associates is a proud member of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). For more information please visit www.penbayvets.com or call 594-8300.

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