Posted in pet health

‘Winterize’ your pet

Talk of snow being predicted this past weekend sent me into a flurry of my own, getting my winter coat, hat and mittens ready to wear. Pets have been getting ready for this weather too, although quite a bit earlier than any of us two-legged creatures.

This brings to mind what pet owners need to be aware of at this time of year.

– It’s important to keep grooming pets regularly to keep them from ingesting their own fur by cleaning themselves. If fur isn’t regurgitated as a hair ball, it’s possible for it to amass inside a pet’s digestive system and cause a potentially deadly blockage.

– If you’re plagued by mice, voles, and even rats getting into your house or garage as weather turns colder, be aware of the danger to pets if you want to use over-the-counter rat or rodent poison. If your pet catches and eats a poisoned rodent, your pet will be poisoned too. Consider other safer ways of eliminating these pests – spring traps or Hav-a-Hart type traps – without endangering your pet.

– Check the coolant level in your car. If it’s empty, have a mechanic check hoses and the radiator for leaks before you try to fill it up. Just one teaspoon of antifreeze dripped on the driveway or garage floor can attract pets to that sweet-tasting, but deadly, fluid. If there is already a spill under your car, soak up the fluid with a rag and dispose of it in a closed container, and hose away any remainder. Keep your pet away from the vehicle until leaks are fixed.

– Keep pets – and children – away from windshield washer fluid. It often contains methanol or alcohol, which are toxic if ingested.

– Every time you get in your car or truck, bang on the hood and/or door. Hopefully this will startle any pets who have climbed up inside the engine area where it might be warm, so that you don’t drive away with them inside. This can be fatal for the pet if it gets caught in the engine or falls from the vehicle onto the road, which might make it hazardous to other drivers too.

– Keep Halloween candies away from pets. Chocolate is especially dangerous for a pet to eat, because they can’t tolerate the theobromine in it. The same goes for coffee grounds.

– Keep pets indoors on Halloween, preferably in a room far from the outside door where you will be treating trick-or-treaters to candy.

– Keep pets away from chemicals used to winterize swimming pools, and keep them away from the pool entirely until it’s safely covered. Be sure there is no way either pets or children can get under a pool cover once secured.

– If your pet has been outdoors a lot this summer and fall, keep up-to-date on treatments for fleas and ticks. Vacuum pet sleeping areas in the home, and wash bedding to prevent flea eggs from hatching and finding your pet, thus starting the whole nuisance over again.

There is one element of dealing with colder weather that is a benefit to pet owners: there is warmth-sharing potential in every empty lap in the household, and it doesn’t need plugging in.

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Owned by three cats over age 13