BY: SAMANTHA BARTLETT, DVM
While we, as veterinary professionals, know foods and chemicals that are toxic to pets, we sometimes forget that our clients do not share this knowledge. With the change in season comes a flurry of holiday events that can also lead to dangers for pets. It is prudent at this time of year to remind and educate our clients of the dangers that come with winter weather and holiday gatherings.
Cold is the most obvious winter hazard. Extreme temperatures can be dangerous for pets that are not properly protected. Remind clients that pets should have warm shelter during extreme temperature drops and feet need to be protected from common chemicals and salt used to deice sidewalks and roads. Remind clients to clean up antifreeze spills and store unused antifreeze in a safe place where pets cannot get to it.
Holiday gatherings are perhaps even more hazardous since pet owners don’t always have control of what happens to their pets. People love to win the family dog’s affection with treats. This can lead to GI upset and can expose the dog to potential toxins. Remind clients to keep a close eye on their pets during and after gatherings to ensure they are not acting strangely or otherwise showing signs of toxicity or pancreatitis.
While emergencies happen, a little education can go a long way in helping clients avoid turning the most wonderful time of year into a nightmare for their pets. The AVMA has a cold weather client handout that can be downloaded from their website.