Winter Hazards

During the holidays people enjoy the festivities inside the household and keeping warm. With the holidays also comes cold weather. It is important to recognize the hazards that are present within the home and also outside.

Every breed is different on how they handle cold weather but it is important to provide basic protection from the environment for all pets. Some dogs with short coats may need jackets when going outside because they lose body heat fast, while other dogs have naturally thick coats to protect them against the elements. It is important to recognize your pets’ tolerance for cold and if you have any questions call your veterinarian.

All pets need a shelter in case the weather becomes too much for them to tolerate. The shelter should have enough room for the pet to stand up and lay down comfortably but not too large where heat cannot be retained efficiently. Face the shelter away from the wind, usually south. While blankets seem like a nice and comfortable luxury, parasites such as fleas also like them. Cedar shavings are another option to keep your pets warm and comfortable while being less favorable to fleas.  It is also important to have fresh water that is not frozen and in a non-metal bowl.

The land terrain itself can produce hazards such as frozen lakes/ponds. Prevent access to areas with frozen bodies of water as there may be areas of weakness within the ice which pets can fall through and potentially drown. Ragged patches of ice may cut or irritate paw pads. Ensure that all swimming pools are properly secured for the winter. Limit unsupervised activity by walking pets on leashes and check paws after being outside.

During the winter cars can be especially dangerous for pets. Cats seek warmth and will occasionally choose to sleep on a car’s engine. Be sure to know where your cat is or honk the horn before starting your car. Antifreeze is also a source of concern. If ingested this sweet tasting product is deadly and cause vomiting and eventually kidney failure. Be sure to clean any antifreeze if it spills and call your veterinarian immediately if your pet is exposed to it.

By being knowledgeable, we can avoid situations that put our pets at risk. Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about how to keep your pet safe during the holidays.

Dr. Garza

VETSS is the ONLY 24/7 emergency vet in Charlottesville and now offers complete veterinary care for your pets!  Call today to schedule a wellness exam!


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