With the winter season about to start and holidays right around the corner, it’s no wonder our pets find more to get into. First off, there are the uncontrollable factors, such as the cold weather. Although we can’t control the temperature outside, we can make it a bit easier on our pets. Secondly, people tend to use de-icing chemicals often in the winter. Some of these products have proven to be hazardous and toxic to our pets if ingested. As well, there is the Christmas tree, which comes with a whole list of hazards on its own. Make sure your house is pet proof for the winter and safe for the holidays!
The winters in Canada are fairly dramatic, with drastic temperature fluctuations and sometimes large amounts of snow. If you have a four legged friend who enjoys the outdoors or spends the majority of his or her time out there, then you might have your work cut out for you! Shelter for outdoor pets is top priority. Not just any structure will do, your pet will need a well insulated shelter with a wind protective barrier. In very cold parts of the country, outdoor rated pet heating pads should be used as well.
Another issue with outdoor pets is that they must have fresh unfrozen water available to them at all times. To prevent the freezing of the water bowl, the use of a heated bowl will be necessary.
For pets that enjoy walks during cold weather, extra insulation can also be helpful. For dogs who are naturally lean, shorthaired, young/old, or tiny breeds may need extra warmth when they are outdoors. There are a variety of sweaters, coats and wind breakers available for pets that may be helpful for this.
And don’t forget those hazardous de-icing chemicals. Make sure to dry your dog off well each time you walk them outdoors, especially if your pet has longhair. Drying/wiping off your pets’ feet, legs and abdomen after they’ve been outside will keep them from ingesting any de-icing solutions. Signs de-icer ingestion are: drooling, lethargy, vomiting and electrolyte imbalances. It is also irritating to the skin and mouth. *Cleaning the paws after winter walks will also help to remove the salt so as not to crack and irritate the paw pads.
For cats who roam the outdoors during the winter months, or dogs who enjoy hanging around the house, you will need to be cautious for chemicals such as antifreeze. Even though this chemical has a sweet taste to it, it can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon can be deadly to a cat! So, make sure to store antifreeze in secure cabinets, clean up any accidental spills and be sure to keep the cap twisted on tightly at all times. It is also best to store any dangerous products away from where your pet may have access to them.
Antifreeze poisoning destroys the tissues of the kidneys and can be extremely lethal. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, call the pet poison hotline or your nearest veterinarian immediately so that appropriate treatment can begin.
And last but not least, the Christmas tree!
Christmas trees are beautiful, but they are also a favorite for pets, mainly cats. First off, many cats enjoy drinking water out of places other than their cat bowls…including the stagnant tree water! Try to keep cats away from the water under the Christmas tree. For one, it may contain fertilizer, which can cause an upset stomach. Furthermore stagnant water may carry a build up of bacteria which could lead to vomiting, nausea and diarrhea if ingested by your pet.
Electrical cords around the tree are another danger to pets around the holidays. If bitten or chewed on by your pet, they can lead to shocks or even electrocution.Try to cover up/hide these cords as best as possible and supervise your pets near the tree.
As well, decorations themselves can be a hazard. Tinsel and other dangling/string like ornaments are most hazardous as they can become a possible cause of intestinal blockages if ingested. Intestinal blockages can be life threatening and your pet may end up requiring surgery. This type of decoration may need to be reconsidered when decorating your tree this year if you happen to own a cat!
Glass ornaments are another decoration that you must carefully supervise your pet around. Try placing them higher up in the tree if possible in order to keep them out of reach from your pets. If broken, glass ornaments can not only cut paws, but if ingested they can lacerate the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract as well! This could lead to serious complications.
So, with the cold weather and holidays fast approaching, you better get a kick start on keeping things safe for your pet. Although we cannot control the -30’c weather, we can control many aspects of comfort when it comes to our furry friends. Keeping them warm and sheltered, out of reach from common winter chemicals and choosing safe ornaments are all good ideas to start the season off safely!