The American Dog Trainers Network

COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS

Anti-Freeze

If ingested, anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) is often lethal -- even in very small quantities. Because many dogs and cats like its sweet taste, there are an enormous number of animal fatalities each year from animals drinking anti-freeze. Poisoning from anti-freeze is considered a serious medical emergency which must be treated by a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Fortunately, the Sierra company now offers a far less toxic form of anti-freeze. They can be reached at (888)88-SIERRA.

Hypothermia

When a dog's internal temperature drops below 96 degrees F (by being exposed to cold weather for long periods, or getting both wet and cold), there is a serious risk to the dog's safety. Small and short-haired dogs should wear sweaters when taken for walks during cold winter weather. Any sign that a dog is very cold -- such as shivering -- should signal the owner to bring the dog indoors immediately.

Ice-Melting Chemicals and Salt

Ice-melting chemicals and salt placed across sidewalks and roads can cause severe burning to your dog's footpads. Whenever possible, avoid walking your dog through these substances, and wash off his footpads when you return home. There are also products available such as Musher's Secret which can be applied to your dog's footpads prior to going outside, that may help reduce the pain that is often caused by road salt and chemicals.

Tinsel and Other Christmas Tree Ornaments

When ingested by a dog (or cat), tinsel may cause obstruction of the intestines, and the tinsel's sharp edges can even cut the intestines. Symptoms may include: decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessless and weight loss. Treatment usually requires surgery.


"Collar safety tip for dogs who live outdoors:

While we discourage dog owners from keeping their pets exclusively outdoors, we realize that some people do. Professional groomer Nancy Gourley of Alaska has cautioned us that many dogs that live outdoors in cold climates develop full neck burns from wearing metal choke collars in cold weather, because steel attracts the cold and burns the skin black. Additionally choke collars should never be worn by an unsupervised dog. A leather or nylon flat buckle collar (that is checked periodically) is a much safer collar for dogs that live outdoors in any climate. (Both ID and rabies tags should be attached to the flat buckle collar.)

Copyright 1995 - 2000,  Robin Kovary

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Robin Kovary is the American Dog Trainers Network helpline director
 and canine behavioral consultant.