Holiday Time, Cold Weather and Winter Conditions Pose Dangers for Pets

During the wintertime holidays, our homes are often decorated, special foods are prepared and families reunite to celebrate. Please let us take the time to be sure our homes are safe and we are not creating the potential for crisis for our loved pets.

Pets can be attracted to candles. Do not leave pets unattended in a room with a menorah or candle lit candelabra. A curious inspection or a knock of a table can result in a disastrous situation.

If lights are displayed, let’s be sure the electrical cords are not available for curious pets who may find them interesting and fun chew toys.

Tinsel on the tree is a fun and attractive play toy for dogs and cats, but it can be a serious problem if ingested along with artificial tree parts, decorative ribbons, string, and tree ornaments placed at lower levels or other small toys, parts of small toys or small decorative pieces that might be available to curious pets.

If you are giving toys to your pet for the holidays, be sure they are designed for pets and not children where smalls buttons for eyes and such can become a swallowing danger. (Pet Toys)

Ornaments should be tied with string and not hooks to avoid pets from catching their mouths on or worse swallowing hooks from ornaments that fall from the tree.

Live Christmas trees can become a fire hazard so be sure they receive adequate water and you check the reservoir daily. It is also important that this water cannot be accessed by your thirsty pet, especially if a preservative is used. Be sure the tree stand base is well covered

Amaryllis, chrysanthemum, holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, rhododendron, winter broom as well as Christmas berry, cherry, pepper and rose are all toxic and can cause problems to pets that ingest and in some cases come in contact with them. (Dog Poisons)

Even if your tree is already decorated, P-L-E-A-S-E read the additional hints on a safe holiday tree available by clicking (Christmas tree safety).

If holiday treats are shared with your dog, be aware that large amounts of high fat foods can result in serious gastrointestinal disorders. Chocolate, baking and dark being the most dangerous, even a small amount, can prove to be deadly to a small dog, and alcohol can be toxic to both dogs and cats. (Dog Poisons)

Be certain that leftovers are always out of reach and garbage is secure and cannot be scavenged by pets or other animals. Discarded poultry and other cooked bones can lodge in an animal’s throat and/or intestinal tract.

If your household or the house you are visiting uses space heaters, electric blankets and other such heating products, they must be carefully monitored and not forgotten when in use. These appliances can be the causes of house fires leaving the potential for people and pets to be badly burned and suffer from smoke inhalation.

Pay special attention to your dog’s well-being during the cold winter season.

It is helpful to remind people who are in colder areas that a small amount of car antifreeze is highly toxic. The sweet taste of antifreeze attracts animals and poisoning is a common occurrence in winter that can cause permanent kidney damage and can often be fatal. 1 teaspoon per 2 pounds of body weight is all that is needed to be lethal. (Dog Poisons)

Cleaning pets’ paws when coming in from out of doors is a good idea in any season.

Additional steps should be taken to avoid antifreeze poisoning. Do not let pets or other animals drink from puddles, and it is very important to clean paws when a pet comes in from the outdoors. Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate footpads so it is especially important to clean and dry the paws.

Apply a thin film of petroleum jelly to the pads; this is a good preventative against tiny cuts and prevents further cracking.

Frostbite is a dog’s winter hazard.

Guard your pets against the winter chill. Realize that wind chill has the effect of lowering the actual temperatures by up to 20 degrees and exposure to cold for extended periods can result in hypothermia which can interfere with the normal functions of the body and result in injury or death. Our dogs should have the added protection of a properly fitted protective garment such as jackets or coats designed for dogs.

Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. Provide plenty of fresh water and do not believe that eating snow is a satisfactory substitute for water, it is NOT.

If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors or is working, it takes more energy in the winter to keep body temperature regulated, so feed your dog additional calories.

Keep dogs off of ice-covered lakes where the possible dangers exist due to under ice moving currents where the dog can fall through the ice and become submerged. Even if the dog does not drown and is pulled from the water, the animal is at extreme risk for hypothermia if not quickly warmed.

In colder climes people often leave pets in idling autos. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car while you do last-minute shopping or errands. Not only does this expose you to car theft with your love companion inside, it exposes your pet or other occupants to possible carbon monoxide poisoning from an engine left running. It is dangerous and it would be a mistake with possible devastating results.

Let’s use a little precaution and enjoy the holiday and winter season.

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3 Responses to “Holiday Time, Cold Weather and Winter Conditions Pose Dangers for Pets”


  1. 1 Frances H. December 9, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks for the information and the reminder for our loving fur babies.

  2. 3 jamie December 23, 2008 at 7:10 am

    The cold season may not really be a too safe time for both humans and pooches if not properly cared for. This is the season of the year that we should give more notice to our pets, the Christmas. Speaking of which, I found this cool site today, http://www.petcentric.com/crittercarols/?DCMP=RAC-PETC-DogTm-Carol08&HQS=Blog. It allows you to create animated e-cards featuring a chorus of singing and dancing pets that bark or meow your favorite holiday songs. What’s more fun is that you can even use your friends’ or your own pet’s photos. I sent one to my friends, and boy, it was a sure hit!


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