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Keep Your Pet Safe During The Winter Months

As the crisp chill of autumn descends upon us, blanketing the world in warm hues of amber and crimson, we eagerly embrace the changing leaves, don our coziest sweaters, and prepare for a series of cherished holidays. Yet, amidst the excitement, we must also remain vigilant about the unique hazards that this season presents for our cherished canine and feline friends. Autumn’s falling leaves, while beautiful, can hide dangers such as toxic plants and mushrooms that might intrigue curious pets. Chillier weather may demand extra care to keep your furry pals warm, and holiday festivities introduce potential hazards like chocolate, turkey bones, and holiday plants. To ensure the safety and well-being of your adorable pooch and kitty, our pet magazine offers expert advice, heartwarming stories, and invaluable tips.

Winterize Your Pet’s Safety: Top Hazards to Avoid in Fall and Winter

  • Antifreeze – Every year more than 10,000 dogs and cats are accidentally poisoned with automotive antifreeze. Pets are attracted to the sweet taste of ethylene glycol and one to two teaspoons will poison a cat and three tablespoons is enough to kill a medium size dog.
  • Allergies – Fall weather can bring about all whole new set of allergies. Ragweed and mold are two big aggravates, along with grass and dust. Look for signs like scratching, biting, chewing, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and hives and rashes.
  • Arthritis – Cold weather can lead to arthritis caused by inflamed joints. If your dog or cat is limping, having trouble moving, jumping, or sitting, moving slower than usual, or whimpering when he moves, he may be suffering from seasonal arthritis.
  • Mushrooms – All mushrooms are toxic to dogs. Always watch for mushrooms in areas where you walk your dogs or where they run and play. Be especially cautious of parasol-shaped mushrooms and all small brown mushrooms.
  • Compost Pile – Your compost pile in your backyard is also dangerous to your pet. The decomposing organic material could contain mycotoxins that can cause hyperthermia, agitation, excessive panting or drooling, and even seizures.
  • Rodenticides – In fall and winter, mice and rats come flocking indoors to warmer surroundings. Putting out rodenticides will get rid of rodents but could also be fatal to your pooch and cat.
  • Candy – Everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs, especially the baking variety, but so are raisins and the sugar-free sweetener xylitol. Wrappers and sticks from lollipops can also pose a threat causing intestinal blockages.
  • Holiday Feasts- You may have the urge to share your yummy feast with your pet. This is OK in moderation. Avoid fat and fatty foods that can trigger pancreatitis in dogs and cats, and never feed your dog poultry bones. They easily splinter and break and can cause serious damage if swallowed.
  • Cold Weather – Chilly temps can also pose a threat to your pet. Indoor animals don’t develop a thick double coat like outdoor pets and should not be left outside unattended for extended period of time. Consider buying a sweater for your dog for walks or booties to keep his paws safe from ice and rock salt.
  • Decorations – Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations can all be dangerous to your pet. Ornaments, tinsel, plants, costumes, and other decorations should all be kept out of your pet’s reach.
  • Plants – Although beautiful, some holiday plants are toxic to dogs. You should avoid holly, amaryllis, mistletoe, poinsettia, Christmas cactus, American and European bittersweet, chrysanthemum, Christmas rose, Jerusalem cherry, autumn crocus, and burning bush. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lack of appetite, tremors, belly pain, difficulty breathing, shock, organ damage, slowed heart rate, collapse, and even death.
And cat owners, during the holiday excitement, should stay aware of seasonal hazards that could make it an unhappy for their pets–such as decorations that beckon as new (and potentially dangerous) toys, enticing smells (from substances that may be toxic) and the arrival of strangers into your pet’s familiar territory. The International Cat Association (TICA) has come up with some tips for cat owners to ensure they and their pets will enjoy a happy and healthy 2013 holiday season. Decorate with caution. Kitty’s reaction to your carefully decorated Christmas tree? “Hello, new climbing perch!” Cats naturally love heights, but it’s no fun for either of you if your furry friend’s acrobatics bring the whole tree down. Instead of a ceiling-height tree, consider a small one set on a tabletop–or put the tree in a place where it can be well secured. When you decorate your tree, keep in mind not just how attractive it will be to human viewers but also to your cat. Leave the bottom of the tree ornament-free to avoid temptation. Dangling ornaments are hard for your pet to resist. So are long, shiny strands of tinsel or ribbon. If your cat eats one, surgical removal may be required. Cats may also be tempted to chew on electrical cords hanging from strings of lights or moving decorations. Secure them against the wall or wrap them around branches. Don’t tempt with scents. Fragrant candles and potpourri are popular holiday accessories, but exercise caution. Extinguish the flames when you are not at home and put the candle where your cat isn’t likely to knock it over; an open flame can become a serious fire hazard. Best of all: Use “flameless” electronic candles instead of wax candles. Research before you buy a holiday plant to make sure it won’t harm kitty, who may like to claw, lick, groom or nibble on plants. Learn more Poisonous Plant list at Some common decorative choices have unpleasant side effects.
  • Poinsettias may irritate your cat’s mouth, causing excess salivation; may also cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Mistletoe can cause diarrhea and lethargy.
  • American Mistletoe can result in difficulty. breathing, severe irritation to digestive tract, excessive thirst, unsteadiness.
  • Holly may cause vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, hyper-salivation, headshaking or lip-smacking.
These “treats” may harm your pet. An abundance of food in the house make this the “purr-fect” time for our feline friends to snatch scraps from the table or kitchen counter and suffer the unpleasant results. Rice, and fatty foods such as gravy or grease, can cause problems raging from stomach upsets to pancreatitis, and symptoms including pain, vomiting, and dehydration. Many other foods that can be dangerous so take care not to leave any food uncovered and accessible to your pet, either in serving dishes or in used plates and glasses. Drinks can be problematic too. Eggnog is extremely stimulating to cats’ olfactory sense, so they are likely to lick it out of an accessible punchbowl or abandoned glass. Alcoholic beverages can cause serious intoxication. Coffee is also very toxic to our pets. Don’t leave candy around. You may be surprised to discover that cats have a sweet tooth, but chocolate can be toxic to them. Also, discard candy wrappers, which if ingested can lodge in a digestive tract and require surgical removal. Not all cats put out the welcome mat. During a social gathering, reduce stress on less-social felines by keeping them confined to a room where they can rest in quiet and feel safe. Be sure to provide a litter box, fresh water, food, and “play-alone” toys so they feel comforted rather than ignored. If your cat is comfortable in a crowd, make sure he or she is wearing proper, up-to-date identification tags. If the door is opened and closed frequently while you’re entertaining, your indoor cat may escape. Again, whenever possible, make guests aware of your cat’s safety needs so they, too, can be alert to dangers.

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