• Posted on January 22, 2013 8:13 am
    By Chris
    Keeping your pets healthy in the snow

    Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Adventures in Altruism

    As the UK has now become a winter wonderland I’ve decided that I should write a bit on what you can do to help keep animals healthy in the snow! Obviously some of this will be common sense, however I hope it is helpful as sometimes its the small things overlooked. After species specific stuff I will look at things that affect all animals such as antifreeze poisoning and rock salt.

    Rabbits, Guinea Pigs etc
    Make sure that all hutches have extra straw and hay to help keep your pet warm, with water you should check it more regularly to ensure that it has not frozen (especially if you use water bottles). Using a tarp over the hutch can help at night, as can moving the hutch to a shed.

    Most cats are sensible enough to want to avoid the snow, however for those that dont you should wash their paws, keep a towel handy for drying them when they come in,and make sure they have no grit or compacted snow stuck between their paws.

    So it really is impossible to avoid walking dogs, if you have to walk your dog in the colder weather and its a younger or older dog consider a dog coat (likewise for short haired breeds not made for the colder weather). Make sure you keep an eye on their paws to ensure that no compacted snow or grit gets stuck between their toes and when you get back home wash and dry their paws with some warm water as snow can harbour poisonous chemicals (rock salt/antifreeze etc).

    Garden Bird
    With so much frozen ground garden birds will find it harder to feed, and more important struggle to find unfrozen water to drink from. If you have a bird mix it can be helpful to leave some of these nuts and seeds on a bird table or in a feeder. Also if you have a pond breaking the ice can give birds as well as other wildlife such as hedgehogs water to drink from.

    Antifreeze Poisoning

    The most common problem with snow is that it leads to ice which then has everyone diving for the antifreeze like crazy. Just 1 – 2 teaspoons of antifreeze is poisonous to cats and a couple of tablespoons poisonous to dogs – at the moment most veterinary practices are seeing at least 1 case a week. Now the poisonous chemical in antifreeze is ethylene glycol and there is an alternative type of antifreeze using propylene glycol instead which is less toxic. In addition to this you should also be checking for leaks in your car, cleaning up and disposing of any spills immediately and keeping it in an airtight container away from animals. Whilst veterinary treatment may save the animal, long term kidney failure is a common result of exposure to antifreeze.

    The signs to look for requiring immediate emergency veterinary attention are: Intoxication behaviour, vomiting, increased thirst, diarrhea, seizures, rapid breathing/heart rate, weakness, and coma.

    Frozen Ponds and Lakes

    Dogs cannot judge how strong the ice is, and should be kept of frozen ponds and lakes, if a dog falls through the ice DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SAVE THEM call the emergency services. Dogs are often better at saving themselves than at being saved and each year I read of cases where the dog has survived after rescuing themselves and the owner who attempted to rescue them did not.

    Keeping your pets healthy in the snow

    Posted in categories: Vet School Diary
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