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Posted on 12-02-2011


As the winter months approach so does the excitement of snow covered ground. This, for many, means days filled with ice-skating, sledding and snowboarding. However, this time of year can be especially hard on our furry friends. Pets can encounter many cold weather related hazards ranging from antifreeze consumption to hypothermia.

While enjoying daily outdoor activities with our pets, an attentive eye must also be in place. Owners must watch for signs that their pets may be too cold outside. Some of these signs include shivering, difficulty walking and whimpering. Especially older, younger or sick pets since they have a more difficult time maintaining their body heat.

Since pets are continually licking their paws, the ingestion of salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals is a great hazard. The salt concentration and chemicals in many outdoor products can cause irritation and burns to your pet's paws. Another concern in pets that spend time outdoors is frostbite. Frostbitten skin is red or gray. Owners should wipe off their pet's legs, paws and stomach with a moist cloth when returning indoors from playing in the snow, sleet or ice.

Another winter hazard commonly found in households across the country is antifreeze. This substance is toxic to both cats and dogs. It's bright color and sweet flavor is enticing to snooping pets. The main ingredient in antifreeze is ethylene glycol. If consumed, antifreeze can cause serious, and often fatal, kidney failure. Immediate veterinary attention must be sought.

Companion animals who are housed in the garage or in outdoor houses need adequate warmth and shelter. These areas should have bedding materials, such as padded blankets or hay to keep them insulated. Owners need to make sure their outdoor pets have access to fresh, unfrozen water.

As for grooming, avoid shaving your dog down to the skin during the winter season, since a longer coat will provide more warmth. When bathing pets in colder months, make sure to completely dry them before they go outdoors. Those who own a short-haired dog should consider buying them a coat or sweater.

Lastly, winter months also bring about cold and flu season for humans, which mean houses are stocked with prescription remedies. Pets are curious by nature and medication left on a counter or table may be enticing to our furry friends. The ingestion of these medications is often a hazard that is overlooked. By placing medications in the drawers or cabinets after every use, an accidental consumption can be avoided.

For more winter tips or if you have any other questions, please give our office a call. We serve Exton, Downingtown, Glenmoore and Chester Springs.

 Written by Alyson Kelly, veterinary assistant at Eagle Animal Hospital


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