Tuesday, 15 October 2019 14:03

Winter hazards dog owners need to be aware of

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Now the summer is over and all the warnings about ‘not leaving your dog in cars’ posts and infographics are no longer circulating, it’s easy to forget about all the winter hazards dog owners should be aware of. I recently posted a blog about things that are poisonous to dogs and shared it in all the regular places. One comment I got back was “I didn’t know about half of those”. So, it got me thinking. There are a lot of things that are dangerous to dogs that we just don’t know about. So, please enjoy my list of winter hazards dog owners should be aware of.
I WANT MY DOG TO TRAVEL SAFELY IN MY CAR Anti-freeze Antifreeze poisoning is a common winter hazard for many types of pets including dogs and cats. The main source of poisoning is when it drips from car radiators and hydraulic brake fluids. It is then licked off the ground by our unsuspecting pets and ingested causing illness. The toxin in antifreeze is called Ethylene Glycol. It does not take large quantities of this substance to be fatal. According to PetMD: It takes less than three ounces (or 88 ml) of antifreeze is sufficient to poison a medium-sized dog. Antifreeze poisoning affects the brain, liver, and kidneys. PetMD Symptoms include: Drunken-like behaviour Euphoria/Delirium Wobbly, uncoordinated movement Nausea/Vomiting Excessive urination Diarrhoea Rapid heartbeat Depression Weakness Seizures/Convulsions/Shaking tremors Fainting Coma Taken from PetMD (October 2019) Road salt Road salt or rock salt is a mixture of salt (sodium chloride) and grit. It is used to prevent the roads from becoming icy during the winter. The problem usually occurs when dogs lick their paws after getting the salt on them. To prevent this, it’s best to rinse then dry their paws if you cannot avoid walking on it. The problem caused by eating rock salt results in a high blood sodium concentration, causing thirst, vomiting, lethargy and in some more severe cases convulsions and kidney damage. You must seek veterinary advice. Firstaidforpets.net (October 2019) Lack of exercise It’s not unusual to find it harder to get out of bed in the morning and not want to go out at night in the cold, but the result of this is our pets don’t get out to go to the toilet, exercise and stimulate their minds. The knock-on effect of this is potentially devastating. I know that on the rare occasion my dogs’ don’t get their last toilet walkabout 19:30, I will regret it the next day with presents often left downstairs for me. If your dog is the type to really need its exercise (to be fair all dogs should go out twice a day) then you may see a change in their behaviour to your detriment. The knock-on effect is unfair to our dogs. You might get angry with them for ‘doing something wrong’, chewing something or generally having unspent energy that has to go somewhere. So considerate repercussions of not exercising your dog. Consider your dogs’ age When the temperature drops, our older dogs start to suffer. Consider a trip to the vets to re-assess their care when the years catch up on them. Dogs kenneled outdoors I don’t know about this one, I know people do kennel their dogs outdoors but come on, let’s at least give them some heat. heat lamps are easy to buy and fit, blankets are easier! Hay and straw is also a consideration for dogs but the possibility of mites is a risk. Make sure the sleeping areas are draft-free and they have their natural coats that are well-groomed. Keep their minds stimulated and make sure they get nice long walks. Spend time with your dogs, they are pets, not items. Hypothermia The normal body temperature for a dog is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F. Hypothermia happens when the dogs’ body temperature falls below normal levels. The most common cause is prolonged exposure to cold temperatures when they can also develop frostbite. Illness and disease can also cause an animal to not be able to regulate its’ body temperature properly leading to this condition. Newborn elderly and sick pets are at increased risk. Hypothyroidism is a related illness as this disease is affected by an impaired hypothalamus which is the part of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature. Taken from the Pet Health Network (October 2019) , the following symptoms may occur: Depression Lethargy Weakness Shivering Low heart rate Difficulty breathing Fixed and dilated pupils Coma Pest control If you suspect your dogs has ingested a rat or mouse poison, Vets Now recommends the following steps: remove the source immediately stay calm call your vet immediately if you can, take the container with you or even take a photo of the name and/or its’ ingredients Vets Now say this: Symptoms of poisoning in dogs can vary tremendously depending on the type of poison they’ve encountered. These signs can range from vomiting to breathing difficulties to drooling. Swallowed poisons, for example, often cause sickness, diarrhoea, agitation and heart issues. If your dog has inhaled something toxic they may find it difficult to breathe or lose consciousness. Poisons that come into contact with your dog’s skin can cause irritation and pain. The table below shows the main clinical signs in some of the most common poisons. https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/dog-poisoning/ (October 2019) Plants Many plants are poisonous to our pets, please check what is in your garden or plan ahead when planting new plants and trees. The Kennel Club published this list on their website and recommends seeking veterinary help immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t Aconitum Amaryllis bulbs Asparagus fern Azalea Cyclamen Daffodil bulbs Day lilies Delphiniums Foxgloves Hemlock Hyacinth Hydrangea Ivy Laburnum Lily of the valley Lupins Morning glory Nightshade Oleander Rhododendron Rhubarb leaves Sweet pea Tulip bulbs Umbrella plant Wisteria Yew www.thekennelclub.org.uk (October 2019) Chocolate We covered chocolate poisoning on another blog, but in general, the same emergency procedures apply. Keep calm, call your vet and take a sample with you, either the packet or a photo or details of the poisonous substance. Frozen water Please just do not go anywhere near frozen waterways during the winter they are dangerous enough when they are not frozen over. It is a risk no normal person would take and certainly not for our pets either. Frozen lakes, réservoirs canals and rivers present grave danger to humans and pets. Ice presents very dangerous and real hazards. Do not throw sticks or ball on to the ice for dogs to fetch, that’s just plain stupid. I have copied the following from Cheshire Fire and Rescue as it is a comprehensive piece of information. Safety advice – what do do if you see someone fall through the ice Never venture onto frozen ponds and lakes, no matter how safe it looks. If you see someone fall through the ice: Shout for assistance and send for the emergency services – call 999 or 112 – it’s a free call from any phone Stay off the ice Shout to the casualty to keep still Try and reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, a tree branch, clothing tied together or anything else that extends your reach When reaching for the bank, lie down to avoid being pulled onto the ice If you cannot reach them, slide something that floats like a rescue buoy across the ice for them to hold on to stay afloat If the casualty is out of reach, wait for the emergency services while calming and reassuring them After the casualty has been rescued from the ice: Make sure the ambulance is on its way Lay them flat, check their breathing and pulse and begin resuscitation if necessary Prevent them from getting colder by putting them in a sleeping bag or covering them including their head, with blankets or spare clothing Get them under shelter out of the cold Until the casualty is in a warm place do not undress them Do not rub their skin, apply hot water or give an alcoholic drink Keep them wrapped up so that they warm up gradually If you fall through the ice: Keep calm and call for help If no help is available, spread your arms across the surface of the ice If the ice is strong enough kick your legs and slide onto the ice Lie flat and pull yourself to the bank If the ice is very thin, break it in front of you and make your way to the shore If you cannot climb out, wait for help keeping as still as possible Press your arms by your side and keep your legs together Once you are safe, go to the hospital immediately for a check-up. www.cheshirefire.gov.uk (October 2019) Keeping your dogs’ coat well-groomed Trim your dogs foot-fuzz and keep their coats nicely groomed. It doesn’t take much to take care of a dogs’ coat once you get into a routine of doing every few days depending on your dogs’ coat type and length. Even short-coated dogs need weekly grooming to get rid of dead coat, especially at shedding time. Look after their skin too. Prevent dry and cracked noses and paw pads by speaking to your vet about either treating them topically or by adding something to their diet. Be seen There are many products on the market these days ranging from reflective material, flashing and LED collars, leads and harnesses. We sell them on Little Beetles and you will find them on the net and Amazon in abundance. Be prepared and buy some kit to keep you safe in the winter. Heaters, fireplaces, wood burners The draw of the coyness of winter fires and warmth, our pets love this too. But don’t you think this is a hazard that requires some risk assessment too? Heaters can be pushed over and cause fires, log burners and open fire are a massive risk, your pet should never be left unsupervised around these at all. Scented candles Not something that you would automatically consider is it, in fact up until last year I didn’t know that some scents are toxic to dogs. Carbon Monoxide poisoning Those of you that have carbon monoxide alarms in your home will likely know that this is an odourless gas, it is also colourless and non-irritating. PetMD goes on to describe it as being produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon fuels. It is just as toxic to dogs as it is to humans. When carbon monoxide is released it absorbs quickly into our bodies. It reduced the oxygen to the brain and the heart. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide will lead to hypoxemia and eventually death. Symptoms include: Sleepiness Cherry red skin and mucous membranes (e.g., nostrils, lips, ears, genitals), but this side-effect is usually not visible in most animals Weakness Lethargy Difficulty in breathing Seizures Abortion in pregnant animals especially those in late gestation period Depression Deafness Uncoordinated movements Coma Death Nausea Abnormally high levels of acids in blood (acidosis) Vomiting Cough Flu-like symptoms Loss of exercise stamina Disturbances in gait PetMD says the likely causes of carbon monoxide poisoning might be: Incomplete combustion of carbon fuels Accidental enclosure of your dog in a garage with automobile engine turned on Poorly ventilated areas with any source of carbon monoxide (e.g., fireplace, oven, barbecue grill) Unventilated furnaces Gas water heaters Gas or kerosene heaters House fires Feeding amounts Consider that IF your dog is getting less exercise, please do feed them a little less. We advise keeping the balance right by keeping to as normal a routine as possible and not having to reduce your dogs’ feed. Sometimes during the winter, your dog might need a little more food, that’s perfectly normal, especially if they live outside. Ask your vet if you are unsure, although, in my personal experience, vets are rarely honest about how overweight a dog might be. I’ve seen dogs clearly overweight and the vet has said they are OK. Ideally, you should see your dogs’ abdomen go in after the last rib but not to the extent that you can count every rib. Seeing your dogs’ ribs does not mean they are underweight. It is my personal opinion that is OK. Arthritis Speak to your vet if you see signs that your dog might not be the same. Symptoms include being stiff after getting up, walking or running slower, chewing or licking their joints or feet etc and looking around or even making a noise when you try to touch, say, for example, a leg. There’s plenty you can do to help your pet. Yumove is good, but do not rule our prescription medication for your dog, your vet will advise on this. Frostbite Frostbite is damage to the skin when exposed to extremely low temperatures. VCA Hospitals say that when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, blood vessels to the skin start to narrow and constrict. The body does this to preserve the core temperature. In extreme cold, this stops the blood flow to extremities such as the ears, paws and tail, those areas furthest from the heart. When an extremity literally freezes, this causes permanent damage. Severely affected areas will become necrotic or die and can even fall off! VCS Hospitals explains the clinical signs of frostbite; discoloration of the affected area of skin – this discolouration is often pale, grey or bluish. coldness and/or brittleness of the area when touched. pain when you touch the body part(s). swelling of the affected area(s). blisters or skin ulcers. areas of blackened or dead skin. During a thaw, these areas can be very painful and inflamed. You might think this is unlikely to happen in the UK, but imagine if your pet was outside during extreme temperatures, lives outdoors or is lost. It is a very real scenario when the temperatures drop, so please look after your pet. Keep away from puddles In the wintertime, puddles may contain unseen poisons that are harmful to our pets. They may contain ethylene glycol found in antifreeze which can be fatal if ingested, rock salt and just general disgustingness! Letting your dog off-leash When the darker nights and shorter days creep up on us after the summer and autumn time, it’s easy to forget some of the dangers we are faced with. To be safe you might have to consider keeping your dog on the lead more. Wandering further off means that in low light your pet might not always be able to see you well, more so our ageing pets. Fencing The UK weather does not just have a storm in the winter, but when our gardens are dark, it might be difficult to see or be overlooked that your fencing is broken. Always check before letting your dog out and make sure your perimeter is safe for them. Prepare an emergency pet survival kit Dry food bagged into portions, enough for a couple of (or however many) days. A water container (empty) ready to be filled with fresh water. A folding food and water bowl Thermal blankets A spare lead, collar and harness Paw protectors Flashlight and spare batteries Poop bags Chew sticks to keep them occupied Photocopied vet records (vaccination records) Prescriptions or details of important meds or repeat meds Recent photographs of your dog Microchip information Manual can opener Collar ID tag A crate if practical (soft crates are ideal) First aid kit Cleaning supplies like paper towels, plastic bags and a spray bottle of disinfectant Vets contact details Friends contact details
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