While most people think of winter as the time for skiing and snowshoeing fun, holiday celebrations, and cozying up inside, winter also brings with it a number of risks, some of which are life-threatening to our pets. The drop in temperature is threat enough, but throw in holiday decorations, forbidden food, and dangerous roads, and your dog’s life is at risk from a range of circumstances. Read on to learn of three winter hazards dangerous for dogs and the best way to keep your pooch safe this cold season.
Every year, more dogs die on the roads in the winter than they do at any other time of the year. Snow and ice make roads dangerous places to be. Vehicles cannot stop as quickly and your dog is less mobile on icy roads, making getting out of the way of oncoming traffic a challenging task.
The best thing you can do as an owner is to keep your dog on a lead when close to roads. But also, ensure you keep gates and doors closed so your curious pooch cannot escape onto the streets. The snow and ice also reduce visibility. Investing in a collar and lead that reflects or lights up will make your dog (and you) more visible to drivers.
Another winter danger is the salt dispersed on the roads and sidewalks when it is icy. While salt is used to improve traction on the roads, it can do serious damage to your dog. Walking on it can take a toll on your dog’s paws, but worse than that, ingesting it can harm your dog.
Road salt can make the snow taste differently and seem like a welcome change to your dog, but ingesting it can lead to severe dehydration rapidly, especially in small dogs. In addition, it can damage the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and stomach lining. If you’re worried your dog has ingested too much rock salt, head to the veterinary clinic straight away.
In addition, try to encourage your dog to drink as much water as possible. This will flush out the salt and keep dehydration at bay. It is worth walking your dog away from busy roads if you can during icy periods. Instead, take them to fields and more rural areas where there will be less rock salt.
An unlikely culprit, holiday decorations kill dogs every single year. Tinsel can cause intestinal blockages, while decorations for trees, porches, and tables all pose a serious choking risk. Every year, dogs die from ingesting perfectly innocent-looking decorations.
Try to keep decorations high enough that your dog cannot reach them, particularly if they are small. Do not leave your dog alone in a room full of decorations if there is no one there to supervise them.
If you think your dog may have swallowed something they shouldn’t have, or if they are choking on something, get to a vet as quickly as possible. If your pup is choking, pull the tongue forward and see if you can remove the object. Alternatively, as recommended by Charles Wayne Guildner in The Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians, try the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the item.
As a side note, along with celebrations come food and drink items that can pose a danger to curious dogs. Chocolate, candy, and other sugary treats can be fatal to canines. Theobromine, found in chocolate, is a chemical that dogs cannot adequately metabolize. Xylitol is highly toxic and is often found in candy and peanut butter, as well as toothpaste.
Winter Hazard Conclusion
Winter brings with it a world of festive fun, but it is also a time to be alert for the sake of your dog. The weather makes the street a dangerous place and the road salt put on to melt the ice is potentially a fatal hazard for your dog. Keep your dog away from busy roads and rock salt where you can, and seek medical attention quickly if they run into trouble with either. Store and display holiday decorations out of your dog’s reach to prevent the potentially fatal risk of choking. Enjoy the season, but be aware of winter hazards.