Winter weather safety tips for pet owners

Staff Report

Indoor pets not acclimated to winter temperatures should not be left outside in cold weather for long periods. Outdoor pets, however, can withstand fairly cold temperatures if they have shelter from wind and rain and have bedding to insulate them from the cold ground. Avoid electrical heating devices that could electrocute your pet if they were to get wet or were chewed. Outdoor pets also need extra food in cold weather to generate body heat, and they need access to water that is not frozen.

Keep your pet’s feet clean and dry. Ice or salt will cause severe irritation when caught between your pet’s toes. Frostbite is a winter hazard to pets as well as people. Frostbitten areas are fragile and should be wrapped snugly for protection from abrasion and from sudden temperature change. Severe frostbite requires emergency treatment.

Most radiator antifreeze/coolant contains ethylene glycol and is highly toxic. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by children and animals. Five teaspoons can kill a 10-pound dog, and less will kill a cat. It is very fast-acting and results in kidney failure and death in as little as four to eight hours. Newer products that contain propylene glycol are generally considered safe.

Store new antifreeze in its original container, out of reach of pets and children. Keep the empty container or a record of the product used so that if your car leaks and your pet finds it before you do, you can tell your veterinarian what was consumed.

Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway. Always have plenty of fresh water available for your pet. A thirsty pet may relieve its thirst with antifreeze that a neighbor left out or hosed down the driveway. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, call your veterinarian right away.

Products used to kill the rodents hoping to winter in your house will also kill your pet. Rodenticides cause severe bleeding, kidney failure and death. There are no safe rodenticides. Whether out of hunger, boredom or curiosity, pets will consume these products. If rodenticides are used in your home, put them in places inaccessible to pets and children. Keep a record of the product used and, in case of accidental poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately.

From the Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013, issue

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