Midday Fix: Cold weather and holiday pet safety tips from Dr. Tony Kremer

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Dr. Tony Kremer

Kremer Veterinary Services
animalcareinfo.com

How to Keep Your Pets Safe During The Cold Weather and Holidays

Frostbite/Hypothermia
In bitter cold weather the danger of frostbite is very real, it occurs when a part of the body freezes.
 It often accompanies hypothermia. Frostbite tends to involve the tail, ear tips, pads of the feet, and scrotum.
These parts are the most exposed and least protected by fur. Prolonged exposure to cold will result in a drop in
body temperature. Toy breeds, breeds with short coats, puppies, and very old animals are most susceptible to hypothermia. Because a wet coat loses its insulating properties, hypothermia is a potential complication for all dogs who have been submerged in cold water. To avoid frostbite in below freezing temperatures keep your pets walks brief.

Coats and Boots Are Not Just for Hollywood Pampered Pets
They’re important especially for city dogs taking walks on the sidewalks with salt and ice. Coats are also good to keep shorthaired pooches warm on their daily walks.

Beware of Antifreeze and Rock Salt
Antifreeze often collects on driveways and roadways. Although it smells and tastes sweet to your pet, it is lethally poisonous. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately! 
Deicing products like rock salt can irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse and dry your pet's feet after being outside at all times. Pet stores often carry pet-safe ice melts that do the job and won't harm your pets.

Dry Off Wet Pets

A wet pet is a cold pet. Towel or blow-dry your pet if he gets wet from rain or snow. Also, it is important to clean and dry paws to prevent tiny cuts and cracked pads.

Dangers In & Around the Christmas Tree
Animals will attempt to drink from any pool of water, including the one in which your tree is sitting! The water in your tree stand likely contains fertilizers and sap from the tree that will result in unpleasant stomach issues for your pet. Anyone with puppies or bunnies should be especially vigilant about their animals chewing on electrical cords; doing so can give your furry friend an unwanted zap!

Ribbons, Bows and Tinsel
Cats love to play with tinsel, yarn and ribbons! Be watchful as your cat plays during this season of abundant decorating since ingesting long, stringy objects can cause obstructions and bunching in the animal’s intestines that will require emergency surgery. Dangly, shiny things within an animal’s reach are just begging to be broken. Cats will be tempted to bat them off the tree, posing a broken glass hazard for pets, kids and everyone involved. Plastic ornaments are a better bet. Anything edible that hangs on the tree spells trouble for your pooch. This includes gingerbread ornaments, popcorn balls, garland strings and candy canes.

Plants
Pine Needles - If ingested can cause oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, trembling.
Holly/ Mistletoe - vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing.
Poinsettia - The poinsettia plant’s brightly colored leaves contain a sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. If the leaves are ingested, they will often cause nausea and vomiting, but it would take a large amount of the plant’s material to cause poisoning.

Candles and Potpourri
Never leave pets alone in a room with burning candles. Candles aren’t really an ingestion hazard, but one swish of the tail could set the house on fire. Both dry potpourri and liquid potpourri in simmer pots pose a serious risk to pets. Liquid potpourri consists of essential oils and cationic detergents that can scald and also cause serious illness when lapped up. Dry potpourri, which consists of a variety of dried plants and pinecones, is often treated with essential oils; it is almost certain to cause stomach upset.

Alcohol, Chocolate and Coffee
The key ingredients in beer, wine, and alcohol are toxic for animals. The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate.