Avoid the emergency doctor - winter pet safety

Bbbbrrr! It’s time to turn up that thermostat because winter weather is here! With the changing of the seasons, we want to help you be your pet’s hero by making sure they are winter ready! Here are some cold weather tips we’ve assembled for your and your furry friends:

  • Be mindful of what your pet is eating. This time of year is full of so many delectable treats, but remember lots of our favorite foods aren’t safe for pets! If you have guests over, ask them not to feed your pet anything without your permission. Many people give their pets treats or special meals for the holidays - keep in mind that overindulgence can result in an upset stomach or even pancreatitis in our pets. (For a list of food that is toxic to pets, click here to visit the ASPA’s Animal Poison Control site - note that it’s not an exhaustive list!)

  • Keep a close eye on the Christmas tree. Christmas trees bring a lot of joy, but unfortunately, they also introduce some hazards to our pets. Watch for signs that your pet is chewing at the lights on your tree - cats are especially notorious for this! Shiny ornaments, tinsel, and ribbon also pose as a temptation to both dogs and cats. If chewed or ingested, these items may require surgical removal! If you have any salt ornaments (a common school holiday craft) hang these out of the reach of your pets. If ingested, salt ornaments can lead to salt toxicity which can result in death.

  • Ensure your pets always have water available. Water bowls left outside can freeze, rendering your pet unable to hydrate adequately! Consider getting a heated bowl if you will be leaving water outside for your pets.

  • Provide appropriate shelter. Whether your pet is an outdoor pet or an indoor pet, make sure that they have soft, clean bedding in a place where they will be warm and protected from the elements.

  • Prepare a winter weather emergency kit. Perhaps you have a kit for yourself in the event of a winter emergency - your pet could use one too! Keep water, bedding, extra food, and any prescriptions your pet needs on hand in the event you get stuck at home!

  • Watch for ice. Pets can slip and hurt themselves just as easily as we can! Booties can provide extra traction and protect paws while out on walks.

  • Change up your walking routine. Our pets get cold too! If you are bundled up for their walk, Fluffy might need an extra layer as well! Arthritis can be exacerbated by the cold weather, so older pets may need shorter, less frequent walks this time of year.

  • Honk your horn when you start your car. Cats are notorious for hiding under wheel wells to stay warm this time of year. They can be seriously injured if the engine is started while they are still there. Honk your horn or bang on the hood to give them time to get out before your engine starts!

  • Quickly clean up any antifreeze spills. Antifreeze - specifically its primary ingredient, ethylene glycol - is extremely toxic to both cats and dogs. It can cause acute kidney failure and subsequent death if not treated quickly enough. Unfortunately, it smells like a treat to our pets, so clean up any spills as quickly as possible! If you think your pet may ingested ethylene glycol (even a single lick), contact VRCCO or your primary veterinarian right away.

We hope you find these tips helpful this winter season! If you have any concerns about your pet, don’t hesitate to contact us. Veterinary Referral Center has emergency doctors available 7 days a week, equipped to handle all winter related injuries or illnesses!