Winter and Christmas Dangers

cats can stowaway under the bonnet of a warm car in winter

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Antifreeze is a common household item in winter, used in cars and other vehicles to keep liquids from freezing in sub-zero temperatures.

This is all thanks to an alcohol derivative known as ethylene glycol. Unfortunately, this active ingredient is not only highly toxic if ingested by pets but also high palatable.

The ethylene glycol makes the liquid extremely sweet to taste, therefore cats and dogs will happily drink the substance.

Antifreeze poisoning can lead to severe kidney damage within just a few hours, therefore early detection is key. Symptoms include falling over and loss of balance as if drunk, vomiting and excessive thirst.

If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your vet immediately.

Prevention, as is so often the case, better than cure. Minimise the risk of antifreeze poisoning by storing any containers in a secure place, clearing up any spills immediately and periodically checking your car for leaks.


Cold Weather

Cold weather, snow, ice and sleet can all pose a threat to our pets, especially the young and old.

Dogs with short coats, older dogs and puppies may need extra protection against the elements when outside in winter time. Coats and jackets, which are breathable, and waterproof are ideal to use on walks.

In icy conditions, wiping your pet’s paws after they have been outside is highly recommended. Grit and salt used on roads can result in high blood sodium concentrations when accidently ingested.

Don’t forget small animals too. Rabbits and Guinea-pigs kept outdoors should be provided with extra bedding and kept in sheltered spots, to avoid damp and draft free conditions.


Festive Food

Christmas is full of edible delights – but did you know that many of our favourite festive treats are potentially dangerous to our four-legged friends:

If you suspect your pet may have eaten any of the above items, contact your vet immediately.

Festive Decorations & Plants

At Christmas time we introduce a host of decorative items into our homes. From trees to decorations it is important to understand the potential hazards.

Festive plants such as poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are of low toxicity, however ingestion can lead to irritation of both the mouth and stomach.

Decorations both on the Christmas tree and on presents can be extremely tempting to our pets. Plastic baubles and ornaments are less dangerous, however remain mindful as if swallowed can cause blockages. Similarly ribbons and bows accidentally ingested may led to digestive upset and obstruction in extreme cases.



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