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Winter Pet Safety Tips

    It is important as a responsible pet owner to be aware of the many common hazards that can affect your dog or cat during the winter months. Stay informed on different tips you can use to help get your pet through the winter climate and avoid health issues that can occur such as hypothermia, frostbite and poisonings.

Road Salts and De-icers are considered an environmental toxin and irritant, typically composed on chloride/sodium/calcium/magnesium and potassium.  It can cause burning, cracked and dried pads that once ingested from licking off will irritate the mouth and digestive system.

Avoid or prevent walking on salted roads or walk ways, use winter booties and apply a paw protectant or balm to their paws/pads.

Anti-Freeze is a toxin typically ingested after dripping from a car radiator or toilet bowl when winterizing pipes.  Eythlene glycol is toxic in very small amounts, only 3oz (88mL) can be life threatening to a medium sized dog.  It affects the brain, liver and kidneys.  Signs of ethylene glycol poisoning include drunk behaviour, deliriousness, vomiting/diarrhea, increased urination, seizures and convulsions, fainting and coma.

Call your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY if you think or know your pet has ingested anti-freeze.

Arthritis is a common condition in older pets that causes pain and stiffness in joints and muscles.  Although it is not known why, colder temperatures seem to exasperate this condition, possibly due to a decrease in air pressure which in turn increases swelling of tissue making pain and stiffness worse.

Talk to your vet about different supplements and arthritis medication you can give your pet to alleviate their arthritis pain.

During cold weather, keep them warm and dry, and maintain activity to avoid weight gain which will put more pressure on their muscles and joints.

Activity levels for pets and their owners tends to decrease during the colder winter months, which can lead to an increase in weight that can increase the risk of other health problems like diabetes and arthritis.  Maintain a controlled and measured daily intake of food for your pet so they don't get over fed, especially if they're going to be less active.

Snow Paws are snow or ice balls that form on your pets feet and between their toes.  They can be quite painful and cause injury, frostbite and dry/cracked pads.  

Keep the hair on their feet and between their pads and toes trimmed to prevent build up of snow and ice.  Keeping their nails trimmed short will help as well.  

Holiday Hazards

Chocolate: http://www.petmd.com/dog/chocolate-toxicity  Different kinds of chocolate have a different level of toxicity and it also depends on the size of dog and how much was ingested.  The link above shows the different toxicity levels depending on each variable.

Grapes/Raisins: It is not know what exactly causes a poisonous reaction to grapes and raisins in dogs, but it can cause severe reactions such as acute kidney failure.  

Alcohol: Ingestion of alcohol in dogs and cats can cause a decrease in blood pressure, decreased body temperature, vomiting, bloat and disorientation.

Table Scraps: We want our beloved pets to indulge in the holidays, too!  However, this is an all to common problem during this time of year for pet owners and veterinarians.  Over indulging causes a plethora of problems no one wants to deal with, such as vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, and gastritis.   

Plants: Some traditional holiday plants are poisonous to dogs and cats, ie. most varieties of Lilies, Holly, Mistletoe, and Poinsettias.  

Christmas Decorations: Tinsel and ornaments , when ingested, can cause lacerations, irritations and blockages in the intestines.  Keep this in mind when decorating your tree and keep an eye on your pets. 

Electric cords from your Christmas lights should be protected from your pets, or placed out of there reach to avoid burns and electric shocks.

Happy Holidays from the Ripley-Huron Veterinary Clinic

with locations in Ripley, Lucknow and Port Elgin