If you live in a cold and snowy region, winter is a time when you need to be especially vigilant about pet care. During the cold winter months, there are several threats that may pose an extreme risk to your dog's safety and health. Keep your pooch safe this winter by being aware of the following wintertime hazards:
1. Exposure to the Cold
If your dog is exposed to the cold for a period of time, the risk of hypothermia exists. This condition occurs when the internal body temperature drops to an abnormally low level. If your pet cannot maintain and regulate a normal body temperature, there is a potential of serious complications that affect the central nervous system and vital organs.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms of this serious condition, which may include:
General weakness or inability to stand
In extreme or severe cases, a dog may lapse into a coma. If not given immediate medical care at an animal hospital, the dog's life may be in danger. If you suspect your dog may have a mild case of hypothermia, place your pet in a dry and warm location and provide warmth.
It's best to take your pet to the veterinarian or animal hospital, such as Metzger Animal Hospital, where tests and treatment may be run. Using a canine thermometer or rectal probe, the vet will determine the dog's temperature as well as check breathing and heart rate. The use of a thermal or insulated covering may help the dog regain normal body temperature.
The best way to avoid hypothermia in your dog is to avoid or limit exposure to cold air. When taking your dog for a walk, limit the time spent outdoors if the weather is cold. Also, a warm sweater or coat will keep short haired dogs warm during the cold winter weather.
Another threat from exposure to cold temperatures is frostbite. The most common areas frostbite may develop are on a dog's ears and tail. The paws may also become frostbitten when exposed to the cold or ice. When frostbite occurs, the tissues in the affected area will become damaged. If severe damage or gangrene sets in, amputation may be necessary, so watch for the signs, including skin that becomes discolored with a gray or pale tinge or icicles forming on the affected part. Warming the area may prevent further damage, although it is imperative to seek professional medical care quickly.
2. Dangers From Rock Salt and Ice Melt
The chemicals in ice melting applications that are often placed on sidewalks and driveways pose a threat to your dog in more ways than one. When walking on a surface treated with salt or ice melt, your dog's paw pads may become irritated or bleed. Also, the chemicals in ice melt are toxic when ingested, so be sure your pet does not lick a treated surface. After a walk, wipe your dog's paws and brush off the fur, so there is no danger of ingesting any of the chemicals when your dog preens or licks its paws and coat.
3. Ingestion of Chemical Coolants (also known as antifreeze)
If you use antifreeze in your vehicle, be aware of chemical spills on the driveway, garage floor or streets. Some animals are lured by the sweet scent and taste, and ingesting this liquid may be fatal. If you suspect your pet has ingested even the smallest amount, seek veterinary care at once.
4. Toxic Holiday Plants
The winter season is a time to decorate the house with pretty holiday plants. Although colorful and festive, some of these plants may poison your pet if ingested.
Some decorative winter plants may cause mild discomfort when chewed or swallowed, while others may cause more serious side effects. Keep poinsettia plants out of a canine's reach, as it may be irritating to your dog's gums and mouth if chewed on or cause digestive upset if a small amount is ingested. Mistletoe must be keep out of your dog's reach, as this plant is extremely toxic when ingested. The same applies to plants of the holly variety.
Remember to exert caution and use common sense when it comes to winter hazards to your pet, both inside the home and outdoors. Enjoy the winter season and keep your canine companion happy and healthy for years to come.