iStock_000020590750_LargeWinterizing your car? Sure. But winterizing your pets? Absolutely.

While the mercury may not dip too low here in Alabama, the winter does bring with it unique concerns for pet owners. Think ahead to keep your pets safe as the seasons change.

Steer Clear of Winter Pet Toxins

Pets often eat things that they shouldn’t. Many times it’s no big deal, but in some instances off-limits items can be toxic to pets. Be sure to keep your pet safe from these winter pet poisons:

Baking items – During the holiday season, many people are spending their free time baking. Chocolate, especially baking chocolate, Xylitol, alcohol, and raw dough containing yeast can all be problems for curious pets.

Holiday plants – As you deck the halls, remember that lilies are deadly to cats, mistletoe ingestion can cause serious cardiac problems, and holly ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Poinsettias, while often touted as toxic, generally only cause mild irritation if ingested.

Antifreeze – This wintertime staple is a toxic temptation for pets. Antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol, causes severe kidney failure if ingested. Unfortunately it also tastes and smells sweet. Use pet-friendly antifreeze in your vehicles, clean up spills promptly, keep this toxin stored well out of your pet’s reach, and never leave your pet unattended.

Rat and mouse poison – As the weather gets colder, many rodents seek shelter indoors. If you find new residents in your home, keep in mind that pets also like to eat rat bait. This poison can cause serious problems and even death in your household pets.

Beware of Winter Weather Hazards for Pets

Winter means chillier temperatures and sometimes even ice and snow. As the weather changes you may need to provide extra care for your pets. Don’t forget to:

  • Provide your pet with access to shelter when outdoors.
  • Maintain a source of fresh, unfrozen drinking water for outdoor pets.
  • Remember that very young, very old, or ill pets may have an extra-hard time staying warm.
  • Think about fitting thin coated, underweight, or other susceptible pets with a coat or sweater when outdoors.
  • Remember that ice-melting chemicals can cause irritation to your pet’s paws and underside. Be sure to wipe your pet down after a walk.
  • Consider bringing your outdoor pets in during the winter months.
  • Continue your pet’s heartworm and other parasite preventatives.

Chillier temperatures mean shorter daylight hours. Always keep your pets on a leash to avoid an accident. If you walk or jog with your animals after dark, invest in reflective gear such as a collar or vest to be sure you and your pet are visible.

Just because we live in the south doesn’t mean we get a free pass this winter. Be sure to do your part to keep your pets safe, no matter the season.