Today’s guest poster, Heather Kalinowski, is owned by two dogs, an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She writes about all things pet-related for Trupanion pet insurance. We are thrilled to have her expert contribution to the Rover blog!
Frost has started appearing on car windshields and front lawns, scarves and gloves are showing up on morning commuters, and the first snowflakes have started to fall. This can mean only one thing – winter is officially here. While winter doesn’t officially start until December 22, we all know it has already settled upon us, which means it’s high time to think about precautions we need to take during the winter months, including preparing for the increase in health concerns that can affect our pets at this time.
There are certain accidents and illnesses that our pets develop more often during the cold months. Whether they are caused by decreased exercise or cold-weather bugs, it’s important for pet owners to be informed about them so they can use precautions to protect their pets and notice the signs if something does occur.
Here are some of the top cold-weather ailments to affect pets:
Antifreeze Poisoning – Many people winterize their cars during this time, including adding antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, but if ingested, it can cause a lot of harm, including kidney failure and death. It’s important to keep all containers out of reach of curious pets.
Car Engine Injuries – Outdoor cats are always trying to find the warmest places to rest during cold weather. One warm place they often find is the warm engine compartment of cars. Making lots of noise before starting your car can scare away cats that may be hiding there.
Burns – Fireplaces can provide heat and ambiance to a home, but dogs and cats could get serious burns if they get too close. Make sure to have a safe barrier around fireplaces to protect delicate faces and tails.
Rock Salt Ingestion – Most dogs don’t discriminate seasons when it comes to going out for walks. They force their owners out during rain, sleet, or snow. But unfortunately, these cold-weather walks come with some added hazards, including rock salt. The salt used to de-ice roads can become stuck on dog paws and if not cleaned off properly, can be ingested later in the day. This shouldn’t be a problem if paws are cleaned thoroughly after walks or the dog wears booties.
Frostbite – Walks outdoors also bring ice and snow that can cause frostbite after prolonged exposure. Booties on paws are a good way to prevent frostbite as well.
Kennel Cough – This common condition is a highly contagious virus that is spread from a dog’s cough or sneeze. Symptoms include a hacking cough, retching, gagging, and a fever. It can take a long time to treat, so prevention is key. Keeping common kennels disinfected and vaccinating for Bordatella are the best preventative measures.
While these incidents do occur more often during the winter months, it doesn’t mean that winter has to be an unhappy season to spend with a pet. Winter brings snuggles on the couch in front of a fire, games of fetch in the snow, and indoor playdates. In order to enjoy these things, it’s important to take precautions to avoid the increased risks the colder months bring.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.