Our pets help us all live brighter. But with all the bustle of the holiday season and the shiny decorations, their curiosity can get the better of them. And as winter closes in, extreme weather can put them in real peril unless owners pay close attention.
To help keep your home and pets happy this holiday season (and throughout all the cold weather), here’s our 8 pet care tips for winter safety.
1) Harmful Holiday Plants
If eaten, holiday plants like holly berries and mistletoe usually cause irritation, nausea, and vomiting. Larger amounts can cause more severe reactions. Lilies, daffodils, and amaryllis are especially toxic and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors or convulsions. In all these cases, if your pet eats these plants, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
While poinsettia plants are not poisonous as an alleged myth states, you still shouldn’t eat one, and neither your pets as the sap holds chemicals could irritate the digestive tract. Latex and poinsettia plants share several proteins. So, if you know your pet (or yourself) have an allergy to latex, there could possibly be a reaction to poinsettia.
2) Chewing Wires
Some pets just can’t help chewing Christmas light wires. Not only do they destroy your decorative lighting, your pet could also receive a serious shock if she manages to chew all the way through the insulation. The main threat, however, comes from the damage and irritation caused by the plastic shards and metal pieces she might swallow while chewing light cords.
If you pet has a chewing habit, consider protecting light cords by running them through flexible cord covers from a home center. Another option is to spray the cords with a mixture of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and water.
3) Delicious Shiny Decorations
A few specific recommendations:
- Don’t decorate with Angel Hair. Still widely available, Angel Hair is made of fine spun glass fiber. This one-time popular decoration made for interesting lighting can painfully irritate the skin of humans and pets alike. It will also scratch and irritate the eyes and throat.
- Don’t use tinsel. While tinsel (or icicles) is not poisonous, eating it does it usually cause irritation. It also readily tangles and can cause dangerous blockages. Up until 1972, tinsel contained lead, but today most tinsel is made from metalized plastic.
- Watch out for wrapping paper and ribbons. While these are largely non-toxic, like tinsel, foils and colored gift-wrap can irritate digestive tracts or produce blockages if your pet eats them. Remember to throw away candy wrappers immediately because these can also be hazardous if swallowed.
- Protect your vintage family heirloom ornaments. Use wooden, medal, resin-cast, or shatter-proof plastic on the lower branches to distract inquisitive paws.
- Secure your tree to a wall or ceiling hook with sturdy fishing line. Your decorations will be better protected and your pet less likely to be injured.
4) Baby, It’s Cold Outside
How cold is too cold? Just because your dog has a thick coat of fur doesn’t mean he’s ready for the Arctic. Shivering, weakness, and trying to burrow are clear signs your pet is too cold and needs to come inside.
During extremely cold weather, go out with your pet during “potty” times. The size and breed of the dog matters. Smaller dog breeds lose heat far more quickly than their large cousings and can easily succumb to hypothermia.
5) Trouble Under the Hood
Stray or feral cats outside in the winter will seek out warm places to curl up during cold weather. Often, this can mean the engine compartment of your car. So, it’s always a good idea to knock on your engine hood or honk the horn before you start up your car.
6) Foot Care
After returning from a walk in cold winter weather, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, ice melt salts, and roadway sand. Dogs lick their paws to warm them and so will ingest these chemicals. You can also outfit them with booties or massage petroleum jelly onto the pads of their paws.
7) Eat Hearty
During cold weather, pets burn extra energy to maintain body temperature. Make sure they receive adequate nutrition to maintain their metabolism. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes.
8) Kennel Care
If you keep your dog outside, be sure that their kennel is kept clean and dry, has warm bedding, and is well ventilated so excess moisture can escape. Your pet should also have access to plenty of fresh water.
How do you best care for beloved pets when it comes to winter safety? Please share your recommendations in the comment section below!