Ensuring Your Dog Has a Healthy and Happy Winter Season

During the winter, our furry family members are subject to unique seasonal risks.  Knowing what to look for and how to avoid risks will make sure every member of the pack has a safe and enjoyable winter.

Hypothermia

We often hear about the dangers of dogs overheating in the summer, but just like us they are subject to the dangers of hypothermia in the colder months.  Shaking, lethargy, being cold to the touch and trouble walking and breathing can all be signs your pooch has been exposed to the cold and may have hypothermia.  Dogs with shorter coats, are particularly susceptible so make sure they have a warm dry place to relax and aren’t exposed to extreme cold for extended periods of time.  Also, just as we feel the chilling effects of a cold wind on damp hair, make sure your dog stays dry before they go outside.  Even dampness can have a profound effect.

Antifreeze poisoning 

A peculiar property of anti-freeze outside it’s intended use is that ethylene glycol, the primary functional ingredient has a sweet taste.  In fact, humans have compared the taste to the sweetness of pop.  That being said, do not test this claim on your own.  Ethylene glycol is extremely toxic to humans and dogs, and a very small amount can be extremely dangerous or even fatal.  In the winter antifreeze can leak out of your car and pool on your driveway or garage floor.  Additionally, when winterizing pipes or filling toilets to winterize a property, your buddy may have the opportunity to get into a dangerous situation.  When a curious pooch comes across the liquid, she may not be able to resist trying some, and the sweetness can encourage them to lap it all up.  Since even a small amount can cause serious health issues it’s best to be vigilant about anti-freeze leaks, and to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested even a small amount. 

Ice Melts and Salt

This is a double whammy.  Salt is very effective at dealing with ice buildup on sidewalks and your driveway, but it’s irritating to your dog’s paws.  Be sure to wipe off their paws after walking outside in the snow, or where snow and ice have been salted.  This will keep their paws feeling right and as an added bonus, they won’t track anything into the house.  You may also consider buying socks/boots for your dog to alleviate this concern.  Booties for your dog are widely available at pet stores, online and in the pet sections of other large stores.   

The second concern is salt can be harmful to dogs if ingested.  Drinking out of a slush puddle can expose your pooch to unsafe levels of salt and there are a wide number of symptoms.  If you suspect your dog has ingested an unsafe amount of salt, contact your vet immediately.  Although you can’t control what’s used on public streets and roads, you can reduce the risk of exposure to high levels of salt by switching to a pet safe de-icer at home.   

Stay Safe This Winter

Our pets can get into all sorts of mischief they’re not used to during the holiday season.  From the obvious like eating poinsettias and getting into a turkey carcass, to some of the lesser known risks like coming across anti-freeze.  If you are worried Fido has gotten into something he shouldn’t have, give us a call 519-653-7232 at the Preston Animal Clinic to make an appointment with a veterinarian.  If you need help right away after hours contact your local emergency veterinary clinic.