Winter Hazards For Pets in the Charlottesville Area

Nov 21, 2018 | Behavior

During the holidays people enjoy the festivities inside the household and keeping warm. But, with the holidays also comes cold weather. Pet owners should be aware of how winter weather is hazardous to pets.

Every breed of animal handles cold weather differently, but we can give some general tips for basic weather protection that will work for all pets. All outdoor pets need a shelter if 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.

During the winter, cars are 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.

The land itself can produce hazards such as frozen lakes/ponds. Prevent access to areas with frozen bodies of water, as ice can have weak areas that aren’t easy to spot. 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.

Owners should also use common sense and adapt their winter pet prep to suit their animals. For instance, if your dog has a short coat, buy it a jacket of vest, as it will lose body heat fast. If there’s a blizzard forecast, don’t let your cat out to chase birds—no matter how hard it is meowing at the back door. It is important to recognize your pets’ tolerance for cold, if you have any questions call your veterinarian.

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.

For more information, contact our team at VETSS!

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