Our short summer is now behind us, and it’s time to start thinking about cooler weather and the many upcoming holidays. During this time of year, there are also many things we have to be aware of when it comes to our pets. I’m going to go over a few dangers that come with this time of year.
As you prepare your car for winter, if you change your antifreeze at home, make sure to be very careful not to spill or leave any antifreeze fluid in the reach of pets or small children. A very small amount of antifreeze is deadly to house pets. For example, a little over a tablespoon is deadly for a 10# dog and just over a teaspoon is deadly for a 10# cat. There are children and pet safe antifreeze formulations available as a safer option.
Halloween can hold many dangers for pets. Most people are familiar that chocolate can be a problem for all the pets, ranging from stomach upset to death. Candy and wrappers can also pose a risk. The high sugar content of many candies lead to stomach upset and the wrappers can cause choking and blockage of the intestines. Some sugar-free candies contain xylitol, although a nice option for humans trying to decrease their sugar intake, it causes some severe problems in pets, including the inability to control blood sugar levels and severe liver damage. Some people give out raisins instead of candy and unfortunately, raisins and grapes can cause problems for the pets. The bottom line is keeping the kids’ candy out of the reach of your pet.
Everyone loves to dress up for Halloween. If you decide to dress your pet in a costume, make sure it is safe for your pet to wear (not too tight, doesn’t impair vision, nothing small that your pet can swallow) and make sure your pet is comfortable wearing the costume. If your pet hates wearing the costume better to pass on that idea this year. Speaking of costumes, some timid pets can become very distraught with the constant stream of strangers ringing the doorbell and saying, “Trick or Treat!” It is often best to confine your pet in a safe, familiar and secure place on Halloween night; this will help them stay safe and calm.
There is an increasing incidence of pets ingesting glow sticks. If you children use glow sticks to help navigate their way to collect their trick or treat cache or has glow jewelry to make their costume “pop,” make sure you dispose of the glow properly. Cats seem particularly attracted to glow sticks, chewing on them and swallowing them. The glow stick itself is a choking hazard and the liquid in the glow sticks and jewelry is very irritating and will cause pets to drool.
Candles become more popular this time of year, in Jack-O-Lanterns, for decoration and to provide a pleasant smelling environment. When using candles for any reason, make sure you don’t put it somewhere a pet could come in contact with the flame, or knock over the candle holder. Not only can your pet injure itself, but there is also the danger of starting a fire. Two common scenarios would be a dog wagging its tail or a frightened cat running through the house and knocking over a burning candle.
Next, we’ll talk Christmas hazards. I know, it seems too early to think about Christmas, but most stores already have Christmas products on display. The main concerns are: chewing on electrical cords leading to electrocution, eating tinsel or ribbon causing obstruction of the intestinal tract, drinking Christmas tree water with additives that can cause upset stomach and broken glass ornaments causing stomach upset if eaten or cutting the skin.
Home heating with wood stoves increases with the colder weather, especially when the power is out. It is not uncommon for pets to seek out the warmth of a wood stove, and stove related burns are not uncommon. I’ve seen many cats that jump on a wood stove and burn their feet severely. Be aware of your pets and restrict them from going near wood stoves or any other heating device. Speaking of cats seeking a warm place, fan belt injuries are also a problem during the cold months. Cats crawl up into the engine compartment and when the engine starts they can become severely injured. I make it a practice to bang on my car’s hood every morning to wake up and scare away any cat has taken refuge under the hood.
I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween and fall season. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our webpage at wildernessvet.com and on our Wilderness Animal Hospital Facebook page.