Antifreeze: Keep Pets Safe

Winter weather can bring snow, ice, and sleet to your town. This means we pull out chemicals to keep our cars from stalling and our sidewalks from becoming ice rinks. Keep in mind that we could accidentally be exposing our pets to poisons. Antifreeze is a sweet tasting chemical and cats and dogs may lick it because of its sweetness.

A small amount of antifreeze can lead to kidney failure, stomach problems, and vomiting. If left untreated it can be fatal. Pets are often exposed to it from a car that has a small leak and puddles left in the gutters. They can also be exposed to it in the garage where spills occur.

Antifreeze is toxic because of the ingredient, ethylene glycol. It causes damage to kidneys and can harm the central nervous system. If your pet walks through a puddle of it in the street, in the garage, and licks their paws that can be enough antifreeze to cause severe illness or death. Immediate veterinary care is necessary to prevent the toxin from being absorbed into your pet’s liver.

Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning are as follows:

  1. your pet may appear confused
  2. vomiting
  3. depression
  4. increased thirst and urination
  5. sores appearing in the mouth
  6. lethargy

Take preventative measures and keep all toxins out of reach of your pets and your children

  • Wipe your pet’s feet when you come in from a walk to remove debris, chemicals, and dirt
  • Keep the antifreeze in a sealed container
  • Check your garage floor for spills
  • Check your car for leaks
  • Switch to a pet-safe antifreeze such as one that has propylene instead of ethylene

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Advice for Cats and Dogs in Cold Weather

Whether you live in a cold place, or are visiting a cold place for some time, you should take some precautions for your pet’s safety. Every season we experience has its joys but also its dangers.

Indoor/Outdoor Cats

Be careful about letting your cat wander around outside. On very chilly days, a cat might look for warmth under a car or up on the engine. It can be deadly if a neighbor gets into their car and starts it not knowing a cat is under or in the car. One time I had a raccoon make a home in my engine for an hour long drive from Brooklyn to Long Island in the winter. It was ok but very scared and its fur had been burned. Now, I always check my car before getting in it. Tapping on the hood and peeking underneath only take a few seconds.

So even if you do keep your cat inside during the winter, keep an eye out for those outdoor adventurous ones who might be napping under your car.

Dogs Are Limited In Winter

Snow, sleet, and wind can mask some scents that your dog may normally use as “markers” and “landmarks.” Do not let your dog off leash in heavily snowed areas as they may lose their way. Also make sure those ID tags are securely fastened to their collar.

Wipe those paws when coming in from a walk to remove ice, snow, and debris. Salt that is used to de-ice sidewalks can burn the foot pads and make them very ill if ingested. You can invest in some doggie booties and see if your pup will tolerate them. Also, talk to your friends and neighbors about pet safe de-icers. Maybe you can help start a movement towards a safer environment and safer, happier, pet-friendly neighborhood.

Try to let your dog’s winter coat grow too long with the thought that it’ll keep him/her warmer. A good doggie coat, grooming to remove dead fur, and trims will make your dog happier than a long hippie hair.

Winter weather can sometimes cause dogs to take twice as long to go to the bathroom outside. Probably because it’s cold and they can’t sniff and find that “perfect” spot. Puppies may not want to practice housebreaking and older dogs may not want to go for long walks. Whatever tips and tactics you do employ to jump this hurdle, stay patient, it gets better.

For more tips to make sure your pet is ready for cold winter weather, check out all of these PetsWelcome articles: