Kiel Veterinary Clinic
575 Belitz Drive
Kiel, WI 53042
office: (920) 894-3414 or (920) 565-2171
fax: (920) 894-7815
Winter Pet Safety Tips
1. Shelter and Protection- Pets must be able to get out of the elements, away from wind, moisture, and cold. Giving them a warm place to sleep away from drafts and off the floor is great.
Shelter providing warmth and protection from the elements is a must for pets outside. They should be able to get in and out of the shelter easily. A heated floor mat, non-electric warm bedding or deeply bedded straw are good ways to help your pet stay warm inside their shelter. A wind-break should be provided and the shelter should be insulated well.
Heat lamps and other types of home heaters should NOT be used, as they can cause fires.
If your pet is young, has short hair, is small or lean, a coat or sweater will help them stay warm, but your pet should still not stay out long in very cold temperatures. A coat or sweater with a high collar and that goes from the base of the tail to the belly is best.
2. Cold Weather- Pets should not be left alone and off leashes in winter because they can become lost, injured, killed, or stolen. They also could freeze. Cats can get frostbite on their ears. Dogs too can get frostbite or become lost in snowstorms because they can lose their scent. Pets should always have their ID tags on.
Housebreaking may be difficult with puppies in winter so paper-training inside may be an option if he/she doesn't want to go outside because of the weather.
3. Arthritis- Your pet many be more sensitive to the weather due to age, health issues, or breed. Arthritis can be aggravated by the cold, damp weather. A heated bed can help relieve some of the discomfort, as well as keeping your pet indoors. Overweight pets will suffer from arthritis problems more than pets at their proper weight. If your pet is suffering from arthritis our veterinarians can suggest treatments for your pet.
NEVER medicate your pet without consulting a veterinarian. One Tylenol tablet can be fatal to a cat.
4. Calories- Pets that are outdoors will need extra calories to help them stay warm. Our veterinarians can help you figure out the proper calorie intake for your pet's needs.
Pets that are not exposed to the elements as much or that are more sedentary will not need as many calories.
5. Exercise- Exercise can be hard on animals due to ice or deep snow. Watch for unusual behavior or signs of being winded. Shorter periods of exercise will allow your pet to stay fit. You should check their paws for irritations like iceballs or injuries too.
6. Water- Unfrozen, fresh water should be provided for pets outdoors. Animals do not know how to break ice. A heated water bowl is a good solution, but it should still be checked frequently in case it becomes unplugged or broken. You can find heated water bowls at many pet supply stores or feed stores.
Pets should be kept away from frozen bodies of water due to the risk of falling through thin ice.
7. Grooming- Pets should still be groomed regularly during the winter. A dirty or matted coat will not offer protection from the elements, and may cause your pet discomfort and/or additional health problems. Brush and comb your pet regularly, and if he/she requires clipping, provide a jacket or sweater to keep him/her warm.
Pets should be completely dry before taking them outside.
Clipping hair between toes can help keep snowballs from forming on your pet's paws. Olive oil can also be applied on their pads to prevent iceballs from forming during walks. Frequently check their paws for injuries from snow or ice. Boots can help protect their feet and keep them warm, as well as give traction.
8. Humidity- Pets may become uncomfortable with low humidity in your home. Introducing some humidity will make them comfortable. Birds, especially ones from tropical climates, will appreciate the humidity.
9. Vehicles- Pets can freeze to death if left in a car during cold weather.
Cats tend to crawl under vehicle hoods for warmth from the engine. They can become injured or killed if they get caught in the fan belt when the vehicle is started. Thumping on your hood or honking the horn should allow them time to get out before you start your vehicle.
10. Antifreeze and De-icers- Antifreeze is highly toxic and is a danger all year round. Symptoms of toxcicity usually appear 1 hour after ingestion and include: stumbling as though intoxicated with alcohol, vomiting and depression. The kidneys are the most severely affected and kidney failure can result from ingestion. Kidney failure usually happens 12 to 24 hours after ingestion in cats and 36 to 72 hours after ingestion in dogs. Survival depends on quick treatment. If you suspect your pet has been in contact with antifreeze, call a veterinarian immediately.
Propylene glycol is a safer antifreeze product than Ethylene glycol.
Other deadly chemicals include heat exchange fluids, some brake fluids, some transmission fluids and diethylene glycol.
You should wipe off your pets paws, legs, and abdomen when they come indoors to reduce the chances of them ingesting salt, antifreeze, de-icers, and other dangerous chemicals when licking and cleaning themselves.
11. Decorations- Watch pets around decorations. They may try to chew on electrical cords, tree decorations or toys. Cats might try to climb into Christmas trees. Pets could become tangled in tree decorations and cords.
12. Plants- There are many plants which are toxic to animals, some of which are more common during the winter holiday season.
Holly berries are toxic. Symptoms of ingestion are vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Symptoms will tend to be more severe in correlation to the amount consumed.
Mistletoe berries are toxic and some sources say the leaves and stem are more toxic than the berries. Symptoms are significant vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, difficulty breathing, erratic behavior, sudden collapse and even death.
Amaryllis' most toxic part is the flower. Symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, depressed appetite, tremors, excessive salivation and sometimes abdominal pain.
Poinsettia leaves have a sap which can be irritating if ingested and can cause vomiting, but it is basically non-toxic.
Christmas cactus only blooms around Christmas and is mainly toxic only in large amounts. Diarrhea sometimes with blood, vomiting, and depression are the most common symptoms.
Christmas rose has a white flower and the entire plant is toxic. Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea with blood and delirium are common symptoms of ingestion.
Jerusalem cherry has orange and red berries that are extremely toxic especially in the green and yellow states. Depression, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, shock and even death are results of ingestion.
*If you suspect your pet has ingested one of these or any other toxic plant please call our veterinarians immediately with any helpful information such as, the type of plant, how much was ingested, when it was ingested and the symptoms your pet is having.
13. Snow Removal and Snow Activities- Keeping pets indoors while removing snow and during other snow activities can prevent them from being accidently injured. They could slip and not be able to move out of the way or could get buried in snow or be burrowed in a snow drift. If they are outside take precautions and watch out for them.
14. Other Winter Precautions- Be prepared for a power outage or severe storm by ensuring you have enough of your pet's food, water, litter, and medications to last a few days.
For more information on how to make an emergency kit for your pets based on their species click on the link here. https://ebusiness.avma.org/EBusiness50/files/productdownloads/2011%20STWF%20English.pdf