While most people think of winter as bringing snow, presents, family and good food, winter also brings with it a number of risks, some of which are life-threatening to household dogs. The drop in temperature is threat enough, but throw in Christmas decorations, food, and dangerous roads, and your dog’s life is at risk from a range of unusual circumstances. This article will give you a breakdown of three of the most common winter killers of dogs. It will also offer guidance on how to respond to those issues and how to reduce the threat they pose in the first place
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 keep your dog on a lead when close to roads. But also, ensure you keep gates and doors closed so they cannot escape onto the streets. The snow and ice also reduce visibility, so investing in a collar and lead that reflects or lights up may make your dog more visible to drivers.
Another unlikely winter killer is the salt found all over the roads and sidewalk when it’s icy. While it’s used to improve traction on the roads, it can do serious damage to your dog. Walking on it can take a serious toll on your dog’s paws, but worse--ingesting it can kill your dog.
The salt can make the snow taste different and seem a welcome change to your dog, but 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 vets 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 also 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, Christmas 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. Also try not to 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 they are choking on something, get to a vet as quickly as possible. If the dog 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.
The Christmas 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 roads a dangerous place and the rock salt humans put on them makes them a potentially 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. Also, keep Christmas decorations out of your dog’s reach, to prevent the potentially fatal risk of choking.