PLATTSBURGH — Cold weather can bring special hazards to pets, indoors or outside.
Here are some tips on keeping cats, dogs and other pets safe in winter from Kim Salerno, president and founder of TripsWithPets.com.
Some winter products are toxic, she says:
▶ Anti-freeze: Automotive antifreeze is highly toxic, as it contains ethylene glycol, a powerful toxin that can quickly damage an animal’s kidneys. Even a single lick can be hazardous, and, unfortunately, it has a smell and flavor that pets may find appealing. Ingesting any anti-freeze poses a life-threatening emergency, so the dog or cat should be taken immediately to the vet.
▶ Windshield cleaner: While it is less toxic than antifreeze, it is still a serious threat. Most types contain methanol, which can cause severe nervous-system depression in pets. Symptoms include drooling, vomiting and instability.
▶ Ice-melt products: These products can cause everything from gastrointestinal-tract irritation to depression, weakness, seizures and cardiac problems in animals. Even if a pet doesn’t eat it, paws can be irritated from walking on treated areas that have dried out..
There are pet-safe ice-melt products but keep in mind that sidewalks elsewhere where your dog or cat may travel may have been treated with a form that isn’t good for animals. It is advisable to wash and dry off a dog’s paws and belly after a walk. Boots for pups can prevent some irritation, but it’s hard to find a version that actually stays on. One preventative measure is to coat a dog’s feet with pet paw wax.
‘KEEP PETS WARM’
Inside, Salerno says, keep in mind that heat sources such as space heaters, heat lamps and fireplaces can cause risk to a pet’s safety.
Dogs and cats enjoy curling up in warm places, so keep an eye out for hazards — keep fluffy tails away from heat lamps and space heaters and use a safety screen or glass to protect your pet from open flames of a fireplace.
Outside, Salerno says, “your pet isn’t totally protected from winter’s chill just because he has fur. Short-haired breeds that live in cold climates may be in need of protective clothing when spending time outdoors.
“Keep a close eye on your pet while outdoors in cold weather, and bring them indoors if they are exhibiting signs of being too cold. Monitor your pet closely to avoid overexposure, which can lead to hypothermia — a life-threatening condition.”
Lethargy, weakness, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing and fixed and dilated pupils are among the symptoms of hypothermia, she said.
“Time outdoors during particularly harsh cold snaps should be limited for all breeds.”
Pets should never be left unattended in a car when the weather is below freezing, Salerno says.
“Once you shut off your car’s heater, the temperature drops far more rapidly than you might think.”
Every year brings incidents of dogs falling through thin ice, sometimes with tragic results, Salerno says. So if you’re going to let your pup play off-leash, make sure there are no bodies of water that pose such a threat.
And because outdoor cats seeking warmth sometimes curl up against a recently turned-off car engine, she says, bang on the hood of your vehicle before starting it up to encourage a possible feline underneath to leave.
Learn more at: TripsWithPets.com.