Pet Health Tips for Colder Weather

With the changing temperatures comes more than colourful foliage, crisp air, and excitement of the holiday season. Protect your cat or dog from health hazards with the following safety tips!

1. Beware of Cold Weather Poisons
The use of rodenticides increases in the fall as rats and mice try to move indoors to escape colder temperatures. These poisons are extremely toxic to pets and can cause death if ingested. If you must use these products, ensure that they are placed in places your pets cannot access.  Fall is also the time when many people change their car’s engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic but also highly appealing to pets, due to their sweet smell and taste.  Consider switching to a coolant that is propylene glycol-based instead – while still toxic, they are much less likely to be fatal if ingested.

2.  Watch Out for Ticks
Ticks prefer the cooler temperatures of spring and fall to the heat of summer, with many species staying active well into the winter months.  Check your pet for ticks frequently, and keep them on parasite prevention as long as temperatures are over 4° Celsius.  Keep your yard clean of leaf and garden litter, as these are favourite places for these pests to shelter from the frost.

3.  Don’t Feed Holiday Foods
Veterinarians always see an increase in the number of pets coming in around the holidays because of chocolate toxicity and obstructions caused by turkey bones. It’s never a good idea to feed your pet people food, as many seemingly innocuous foods can be dangerous – including grapes, onions, garlic, avocados, raisins, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and much more. Rich, high-fat foods can cause stomach problems such as diarrhea, and even more serious conditions like pancreatitis.

4. Keep Away from Decorations
Shiny, sparkly decorations can look like fun new toys to your pets but are dangerous choking hazards. Ensure ornaments and lights are hung safely out of reach and clean up extra bits of wrapping paper carefully. Decorative string, ribbons, and tinsel are especially attractive to cats but can get caught in their intestines and cause serious problems.

5. Provide A Safe Haven from Overstimulation
Many of us host family and friends during the holiday season, but all the noise and unfamiliar faces can overstimulate and stress out some pets.   Ensure your cat or dog has a quiet, safe spot where they can hide out from the festivities. With all the people coming in and out, it can be easy for a pet to sneak outdoors, so it’s important to ensure your pet is microchipped and wearing tags with up-to-date information.

Written by Rachael Deska