Winter has already made a brief appearance even though it is officially still Fall. However, we know there will be lots more cold, ice, and snow on the way. Therefore, it is probably a good time to remind pet owners of some of the pitfalls of the season and how we can help our pets get through it all.

One of the deadliest winter hazards is antifreeze. The liquid apparently smells good and tastes sweet – very tempting to our furry friends. It is also extremely poisonous and can cause serious illness or death when ingested.

Antifreeze contains the toxin ethylene glycol that makes it lethal. The poisoning affects the brain, liver, and kidneys. According to the website www.petmd.com, some common signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats include drunken behavior, wobbly uncoordinated movement, fainting, nausea/vomiting, excessive urination, weakness, seizures/shaking tremors, and coma.

If you are working with antifreeze in your garage, be sure to clean up any spills and keep the container out of reach of your pets. Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly. Do not allow your dog to wander unattended where there is access to antifreeze such as roads, gutters, garages, and driveways.

Check the hood!

A winter worry for our feline friends is found in the wheel wells of our vehicles. The Great Plains SPCA warns drivers to bang loudly on the hood of your car or honk your horn before you start the engine.

If there is a sleeping cat there trying to stay warm, the loud noise will hopefully startle it awake. If it doesn’t awaken, there is the risk of serious injuries.

This past winter a young cat came into the Beatrice Animal Shelter with injuries consistent with trauma from car engine parts. She survived but had a lengthy recovery period. Do your part in preventing this by the simple gesture of banging on the hood of your vehicle and/or honking the horn.

Wipe those paws!

Are you aware of the danger that lurks when you are walking your canine companion after a winter storm? There is a good chance that somewhere along your walk, one of your neighbors has used ice melt on the sidewalk.

Some ice melts are quite toxic when ingested while others cause irritation to paws, skin, or mucous membranes after exposure. PetMD claims that even pet-safe ice melts are not completely safe, although some are safer than others.

Be sure to wipe your dog’s paws when you return from walks to prevent him from licking it off and becoming sick. And while you are wiping the paws, check for signs of injury such as cracked or bleeding paws. If you have walked in icy conditions, be sure to dislodge any ice chunks that may be caught in the pads of the paws.


You may have figured that I would find a way to get proper pet identification into the “Winter Tips” column. That’s because it is important any season of the year. Now, more than other seasons, our pets need a little extra help getting back home.

The Great Plains SPCA tells us that more pets become lost in the winter than any other season because snowfall can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home. That’s where we can help.

Keep your dogs leashed on walks and always make sure they are microchipped and have up-to-date contact information on their tags. It just makes sense when they lose the scent.

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