Learn how to protect your pet this winter

As winter approachs, so do the potential hazards associated with them. Be prepared to protect your dogs or cats. Here are some emergencies that you can avoid:

Cold temperatures: While our pets have fur coats, that doesn’t mean they are not susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Outdoor pets need weatherproof shelters from the wind, rain and cold, as well as extra bedding and increased calories to keep warm. Indoor pets venturing outside should not be left out for long periods in inclement weather.

Antifreeze: The sweet taste of antifreeze can attract animals, but as little as a teaspoonful can be fatal for a cat. Thoroughly clean up any spills and store antifreeze in tightly closed containers. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze but can still cause problems if ingested in large quantities. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, treat it as soon as possible; ingestion can be lethal if not treated within hours.

Rodent killers are very dangerous for cats and dogs and should be placed in areas that are inaccessible to a dog or cat.

Foods that may be plentiful around the holidays and can cause toxic problems for pets include alcoholic beverages, chocolate (especially baker’s chocolate), coffee beans, spoiled or moldy foods, onions, fatty foods, salt and yeasty dough.

Toxic holiday plants, if ingested, include lilies, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly. Pet proof your Christmas tree. Dogs and cats will drink water from the tree stand, which may contain fertilizers or bacteria, causing stomach or intestinal problems. Chewing on electric cords can also be a potential hazard.

Ribbons or tinsel are attractive to cats, and can cause major intestinal problems if ingested. Batteries contain acids which cause ulcers in the mouth and throat, if chewed or eaten. Ornaments can be eaten and cause major problems.

Potpourris are popular during the holiday season. These contain oils which can cause severe damage to the mouth, nose and eyes. Dry potpourris are less toxic but can still cause problems if eaten. Human medications should always be keep out of reach of pets. Prescription or over the counter medications are frequently toxic to pets and should not be given to them without directions from your veterinarian.

Accidents happen so be prepared with your veterinarian’s phone number, the local veterinary emergency hospital and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number (888/426-4435) in a convenient location.

Courtesy of Kulshan Veterinary Hospital

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