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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter Reminders

Well, here we are again in December. A lot of us are experiencing cold weather and many have had snow. My dogs love the cold and are wishing for snow, but we humans need to be aware of some of the dangers that winter present to our pets. We were reminded of the dangers this week when a friend, Barney, was poisoned by ingesting anti-freeze.

Barney is an outdoor cat, as his name would imply. Although his owners are careful about poisons, Barney traveled to a neighboring property where the people weren't so careful. Anti-freeze contains ethylene glycol which is extremely deadly for animals. To make things worse, anti-freeze has a sweet taste that is attractive to animals. Make sure you store anti-freeze carefully and that your vehicle doesn't leak. Better yet, use a safer product that doesn't contain ethylene glycol. There are several on the market and though they cost a little more, think of the vet bill and tragedy you could be avoiding.

Fortunately for Barney, his human Mom is a vet and knew the symptoms. She got him immediate care and it looks as though Barney will live, though he may have some physical damage.

Anti-freeze isn't the only winter concern. The salt used on steps, sidewalks and streets can not only irritate cat and dog feet, but when they lick their feet to clean them they can suffer stomach and intestinal irritation, too. There are several ways to avoid the problem. There are products on the market designed to melt snow that won't make your pets sick. We can use those for steps and sidewalks, but the street salt remains. Some dogs will wear boots, but the easiest way to avoid problems is to rinse their feet when they come in.

While we're talking about outdoor hazards, let's consider dogs and cats that live mostly outdoors. In rural areas this can be more common. Be sure that your pet has shelter from the wind, snow and ice. A sturdy dog house with some form of bedding will help. Animals all need a supply of fresh water. Check water bowls frequently to be sure they're not frozen.

Cats like to climb onto cars to stay warm. Before you start your car, knock on the motor hood to warn Kitty that it's time to get out of there. Look at wheel wells and under the vehicle to be sure no one is sleeping there.

There are dangers lurking inside the house, too. This is a time of year when there are lots of good things to eat. Some of the things we enjoy most can be deadly to our pets. We're all aware that chocolate is a no no.
Raisins and grapes are also toxic to some dogs.

Did you know that the artificial sweetener Xylitol is deadly to dogs and cats? Xylitol is found in sugar free gum and some candies. Check labels carefully.
Some plants that we find around the holidays can be toxic or irritants to dogs and cats. Holly berries and mistletoe can be deadly.

Poinsettia  plants produce an irritating liquid that can burn an animal's mouth and throat and cause stomach distress. Who wants any of that around the holidays?

Tinsel is another holiday item that is very attractive to animals, especially cats. It sparkles when it moves and can lure an otherwise well behaved pet. Chewing tinsel, which is metallic, can cut up the esophagus and intestinal walls of pets.

Candles can be dangerous. Never leave candles unattended. Keep candles high enough so curious dogs can't reach them and if you have cats, remember they can go almost anywhere to check out an interesting item. Keep candles away from curtains, and other flammables. A slight nudge from a curious kitty can cause disaster, not only for the cat, but for the entire family.

Space heaters are in the same category as candles, except that dogs also can reach them. They can not only cause a burn to a pet that gets too close, but if knocked over or moved slightly can cause house fires.
Finally, remember that young animals, pups and kittens, as well as older animals, have more trouble maintaining their body heat. They feel the cold more than others. A warm blanket in their bed and a sweater when they go outside will be appreciated. The same is true for animals with arthritis. Keep outings short and be sure they have a warm spot to rest when they come back in.

Keep safe this winter so we can all enjoy the holidays and look forward to spring.


  1. Great post. Thank you for the reminders. There are so many items that can be harmful or fatal to our furiends. We all can use the reminders.
    Ernie,Sasha,Chica and Mom Barb

  2. I'd forgotten about a couple of these, THANKS for taking the time to post these great reminders! I hope you've had a good weekend!! Stay warm!! :-)

  3. Great reminders. I am so glad Barney will be okay. It's so important to know the warning signs so you can get help as soon as possible. It's even more important to know how to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the first place.

  4. I read somewhere that xylitol is the single greatest killer of pet dogs. I'm not sure if it's true.

    In Australia we're hot at Christmas rather than cold, but we have the same dangers regarding Christmas decorations and food, so thanks for the warnings.

  5. Awesome post!! We're praying for Barney, poor thing ;-(

    Kelly & Crew
    Big Mac, Molly & Moxie

  6. Hello,
    Found you while blog hopping, I am a new follower and I would love it if you could follow me back.
    Why do the makers of anti freeze give it a sweet taste? surely its in everyones interest to make it smell/taste horrible, that way nobody human or animal would want to digest it.
    Thank for all the reminders.

  7. Great post Sue! Thanks for all the reminders!

  8. Very good reminders! Not being a cat owner I never thought about that. I need to, so many cats out near my car!

  9. Very informative post!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  10. I hope that Barney makes a full recvery soon. Here in Brazil it is not the cold that presents a problem. There are so many dangers out there for our furry friends. I am passing by on the bloghop early, so Feliz Natal from emmy and the gang at Dogs in Brazil.

  11. Excellent holiday safety tips. May you and yours have a wonderful and very Merry Christmas!

  12. Hi... I found you through the Pet Blogger Hop. Excellent post. Happy Holidays!


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