Pet Care : dogs
Beware of extreme cold. Although your pets have a natural fur coat, they need shelter from wind and cold. This is even more important if there is any wet weather such as sleet or snow. Keep your pets indoors if you can. If not, make sure that you have a sturdy shelter built that your pets can get inside. It should be protected from the wind, dry, and insulated. Straw makes good bedding inside a doghouse. Cats are notorious for climbing inside cars to try and get to the warm engine block. Honk your horn prior to starting your engine to scare any cats that might be sleeping inside.
If there is snow on the ground, it can get stuck to the fur between your dog’s toes. The sensitive skin and pads on the bottom of the feet can be irritated and can even be frostbitten. Ears are also susceptible to frostbite, especially thin ears that stand up, such as Doberman Pinscher ears.
When it is very cold, water freezes quickly. If your pet lives outdoors, make sure that you buy a heated water bowl. You will still need to check the water frequently, to ensure that the heater is keeping it from freezing, but it will make your job of providing fresh, accessible water a lot easier. Frozen ponds can be a hazard also, especially on warm days when the ice may become thin. Just like for people, falling through the ice is particularly hazardous for animals. Hypothermia sets in rapidly. Some dogs are able to tolerate cold water in the winter, especially Labrador Retrievers that are used to swimming in cold weather.
Antifreeze is an extremely dangerous substance for dogs and cats. Even a few licks of spilled antifreeze can cause kidney failure and death. When a pet drinks the antifreeze, it is absorbed through the gastrointestinal system into the bloodstream. When the kidneys attempt to filter the by-products of the antifreeze, it results in crystal formation in the kidneys. These crystals fill up the kidney tissue and damage it permanently. Keep pets away from any spilled antifreeze. If you suspect that your pet consumed some antifreeze, immediate veterinary attention is necessary. There are antidotes that can be given to counteract the effects, but they must be administered immediately after ingestion (or very soon after).
Some ice melt substances can cause illness if ingested, depending on the ingredients. They can also cause irritation to the skin and mucus membranes. If your pet comes into contact with one of these substances, contact your veterinarian to find out what to do. Make sure you have the label accessible so you can read the active ingredients to our vet.
Mistletoe is very toxic to pets, especially the berries. Make sure that any mistletoe that you use for decorating is well out of the reach of pets (and kids!). Symptoms of mistletoe ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and even convulsions.
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, two substances that are toxic to dogs in high amounts. Milk chocolate has low concentrations of these two substances, but baking chocolate is very concentrated. Even if a pet eats milk chocolate, they can still suffer from chocolate poisoning if they eat a large enough quantity. Even if they don’t have chocolate poisoning, they often suffer from vomiting and diarrhea associated with eating this high fat treat. Don’t leave dishes of candy on the coffee table for your pet to consume or you’ll likely be making an emergency trip to the veterinary office.
Holiday decorations, like tinsel or curling ribbon, are especially dangerous to cats. Cats will ingest these substances, which then can become lodged in their stomachs or intestines, causing severe illness. Often, surgery is required to remove these foreign bodies. This is usually quite expensive, and can be life-threatening.
Keeping your pets safe anytime of the year is your responsibility. Do your best to protect your pets from seasonal hazards and have a safe, happy holiday season.
Please note that this information does not replace professional veterinary care. It is solely for educational purposes. Your pet's medical condition should be evaluated by a veterinarian before any medical decisions are implemented. If there is a potentially life-threatening emergency involving your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian or veterinary facility immediately.