Cold weather hazards

By Dr. Kathryn Sarpong, DVM

Each season brings special hazards and concerns for family pets.  Even in Texas, winter’s biggest threat is the low temperatures.  Make certain to provide shelter to your pets from the cold and rainy weather.  Some breeds of dogs tolerate the cold weather better than others.  Generally, dogs with thick or double coats do well in cooler weather.  Smaller and younger animals cannot tolerate cold weather, and should be kept indoors when the temperature is less than 60°F.  Symptoms of a low body temperature include shivering, weakness, slow heart rate, depression, and blue mucous membranes.  If the animal’s body temperature gets too low, towels warmed in the dryer can be used to warm an animal while seeking veterinary attention.

There is an increased use of rat bait in winter months.  Rat and mouse bait are lethal to cats and dogs.  There are NO safe rodent poisons.  Never use these products in locations to which your pets can gain access.  Remember, the rodents may also move the bait from its original location.  If a dog or cat consumes rat bait, there may be no symptoms for several days, causing a false sense of relief.  If you suspect exposure or notice bright green or blue stool, seek immediate care from your veterinarian.  Some rat baits have anecdotes that should be started immediately.  Unfortunately malicious poisonings occur sometimes.  If you find suspicious material in your yard, have your animals seen immediately and bring the material with you.

Antifreeze solutions contain ethylene glycol and often have a sweet taste that cats and dogs like.  Ingestion of even small amounts can lead to kidney damage, neurological problems, and death. These animals need immediate treatment to survive.  Make certain to properly dispose of these solutions and try to purchase “pet friendly” anti-freeze solutions that contain bittering agents.

Hydrogen peroxide can be given by mouth to your pet to induce vomiting and should be kept available in all pet households.  If your pet has ingested something that might be dangerous, call your veterinarian or call the local veterinary emergency clinic.  They may advise you to give hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting.  Please note vomiting is not recommended for all toxins.

With a little attention, you can keep your pet healthy through all four seasons!

Helpful Numbers to Know:

ASPCA Poison Control Hotline $50 per toxin case 1-888-426-4435
Pet Poison Hotline $35 per toxin case 1-800-213-6680
The E Clinic 214-520-8388
Emergency Animal Clinic 972-994-9110
Keep your veterinarians number handy.