Pet Winter Safety (cont.)

Pet Winter Safety: 4 Tips for When the Temperature Drops

Providing all the cold weather needs for indoor-outdoor pets in winter is usually easy, but it can be tougher for outdoor-only pets like abandoned or feral cats. So when the weather outside is frightful, here's how you can protect your feline and canine friends from winter's bite.

Tip # 1: Beware of cats sheltering under cars. In cold weather, cats will seek shelter anywhere they can. Even if you haven't run your car in days, a cat may still seek the nominal protection found in your car's engine compartment.

That's why McGeorge says to, "Always bang on the hood of the car if it is parked outside or even in a garage if your cat has access to it." You can also try giving your car's horn a quick toot or two to shoo kitties away.

Tip # 2: Antifreeze is deadly. Antifreeze is thick, very sweet, and can be irresistible to some pets. "During the winter, the most common toxicity we see is from antifreeze," Sonnenfield says. And it doesn't take lapping up much antifreeze to kill an animal. Antifreeze can be deadly to a pet if the pet is not treated aggressively soon after ingesting it.

"Cats can be poisoned by very small amounts," McGeorge tells WebMD. For example, a cat can be poisoned just by walking through spilled antifreeze and then licking its paws during cleaning. If you suspect your cat or dog has been exposed to antifreeze, don't wait to see if it acts sick, McGeorge says. Take it to a veterinarian for treatment immediately.

To avoid antifreeze exposure:

  • Be sure all antifreeze containers are tightly closed and put away on a high shelf.
  • Make sure your car is not leaking antifreeze. "It takes a very small amount to make animals sick," Sonnenfield says.

Tip # 3: Walking pets in winter? Get reflective. During winter's darker days and longer nights, pets can be hard to see. That's why Sonnenfield recommends reflective collars. Some message board members also give a thumbs up to collars, tags, and leashes embedded with LED lights and blinkers.

Tip # 4: Keep your pet safe during the holidays. Winter holidays bring fun and family, but they also invite exposure to items potentially toxic or dangerous to your pet. Sonnenfield recommends keeping pets away from chocolate, plants, holly berries and leaves, and tinsel. Call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or your vet right away if you think your pet has eaten something dangerous.