Winterizing Precautions

Once again cold weather is on the way and, as always, there are potential hazards for our pets.  First of all, this time of year many people are adding antifreeze to their vehicles.  This is highly poisonous to pets (and people too) in that it destroys the kidneys.  Most antifreeze has a sweet smell/taste so animals and children will readily drink it.  Anther potential source for antifreeze is in the garage where you store your car.  When the engine is turned off, occasionally a small amount of antifreeze/radiator coolant can drain from the overflow from the car and leave a small puddle under the car where you may not notice it.  Your cat or small dog can find this and consume it.  Small amounts consumed over time will results in kidney damage as well so it is important to not let your pets roam the garage unattended. 

Secondly, even though colder weather is approaching, fleas are still a threat.  They can harbor in leaves, etc and it takes a really hard freeze to kill them.  It has to get cold and STAY cold.  Even then there are sources of fleas for our pets such as stray cats, opossums, raccoons, coyote, etc.  It is best to protect your pets year round in order to keep your house flea free.  Remember, all pets in the house have to be on prevention.  Mixed pet households (dogs and cats) often think to only treat the dog since it is the one usually going outside.  Fleas are not instantly killed and if they jump off the dog and onto the cat that does not have flea protection, this is a source of food and the fleas will establish themselves inside the home.  Once established, it can take MONTHS to rid the house of the fleas.  There is no medication that will kill the pupa stage of the flea cycle.  These can remain dormant for several months and then hatch when temperature and moisture conditions improve.  Therefore, it is best to keep all your pets on year round prevention so that you don’t end up with a flea infested home. 

Another cold weather related problem can occur when the weeds mature and produce their seeds.  Many of these seeds have thorns or stickers that adhere to clothing and pet fur.  This is a favorite time of year to take our dogs for romps in the woods and fields.  Always check their paws, pads and toes for any weed seeds and remove them.  Another area to watch is the eyes.  Tiny seeds and plant awns can be trapped under the upper and lower eyelids as well as the third eye lid (the fleshy membrane at the inner part of the eye).  Always check the eyelids and if you see weed seeds, gently flush them out with a sterile saline eye wash.  If you see persistant squinting of the eye or excessive eye discharge immediately have your pet examined.  There could be a penetrating object in the eyeball or a scratch or an ulcer to the cornea of the eye.  These should not be ignored and should be treated immediately to prevent serious damage as well as relieving the extreme pain associated with these conditions.

So, enjoy the coming season.  I hope this information has been helpful and helps keep your pets safe and healthy.

Dr Walsh

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