The veterinarians and staff at the Animal Hospital of Colorado Springs is committed to providing excellent health care and safety advice to our clients. We strongly believe that educated pet owners have the potential to be better pet owners, so we provide seasonal tips to ensure that your pet is safe and healthy all year round.
Winter Safety Tips
Colorado winters can be unforgiving. Pets are just as vulnerable to frostbite as humans are, so avoid leaving them outside for more than a few minutes. If your pet needs to be outside for necessary physical activity, invest in protective footwear for their paws and a sturdy jacket to keep them warm.
In addition to the cold, we have a diverse wildlife population that you and your pet may have encountered before. Bears, mountain lions, foxes and deer can all pose a hazard to your pet’s safety (and yours). Never leave your pet outside unattended, and make sure to check around your property before letting them out.
Another winter hazard involves toxic chemicals, including ice melt products and antifreeze. Avoid leaving open containers for these items sitting around where your pet can reach them, and check for spills in your garage and driveway. Sidewalk salt can also irritate your pet’s feet, so opt for a pet-friendly deicer instead.
As the ground thaws and the air gets warmer, it’s natural that your pet (and you) will want to spend more time outside. However, take care to check around your property for poisonous flowers and plants, including azaleas, hydrangeas, crocuses, and lilies. Poison oak, ivy and sumac are also dangerous if ingested. Also, avoid using insecticides and lawn fertilizers that are not pet-friendly.
Parasites thrive in mild temperatures, so make sure your pet is up-to-date on their parasite preventatives. Ticks can spread Lyme disease, and fleas can cause allergic reactions in pets (and invade your home).
Heatstroke can happen to pets, too. Overexposure to the sun and humidity can make them overheat quickly. Your pet should always have a cool, shaded place to shelter on hot days, along with cold, fresh water at hand. The most dangerous place your pet can be in the summer is in your car, unattended, without air conditioning. Even a few minutes can be hazardous for their health! Cracking the windows will not increase airflow, and a temperature of 70 degrees can rise to 90 in minutes. If possible, keep your pet at home while you run errands.
If you plan on spending some time at the lake with your pet, make sure they’ve been vaccinated, are current on parasite prevention, and are kept on a leash at all times. Bring plenty of fresh water for them to drink, and do not allow them to drink from the lake or from any puddles on the ground—the water could contain leptospirosis and other harmful bacteria.
The different foods and treats you enjoy on Halloween and Thanksgiving may cause health problems for your pet if they ingest any. Foods that can be harmful if consumed in large quantities include:
- Sugar-free gum and candy (these usually contain xylitol, which can make your pet very sick)
- Chocolate (including dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate)
- Garlic, onions and chives
- Pistachios, almonds and walnuts
- Meat bones in general (especially chicken and turkey bones, which splinter easily)
- Coffee, wine, beer and liquor (anything with caffeine or alcohol can be dangerous)
Also be sure to take care with decorations. Avoid anything stringy or dangly, don’t leave lit candles sitting around, and keep small, easily-to-swallow objects out of your pet’s reach.
If you welcome trick-or-treaters on Halloween, keep your pet in a secure place in your home in case they decide to bolt for the door. Does your pet become easily stressed? Keep them in an enclosed room in a quiet part of the house. For further insurance against losing your pet, make sure they’re microchipped and wearing up-to-date ID tags.