Winter is Coming!

If you’ve been into our office lately you may have noticed a few new faces. We’d like to welcome our newest staff member; Miranda, receptionist and Jessica, veterinarian assistant. We are very glad to have both of them as part of our team here at North Star Animal Hospital.

Well winter may be taking it’s time to get here but there are still things we need to be aware of to help our pets stay safe and healthy throughout this winter season!

Keep pets indoors and warm: Don’t leave dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. During walks, short-haired dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater. No matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten your pet. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.

Take precautions if your dog spends a lot of time outside: A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Did you know dogs often lose their scent in cold weather and can become lost? It’s always best to keep dogs on leash when outside or keep them in a fully fenced yard

Help neighborhood outdoor cats: If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats (ferals, who are scared of people, and strays, who are lost or abandoned pets) in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It’s easy to give them a hand.

Be careful with cats, wildlife and cars: Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

Protect paws from salt: With the changing temperatures comes “ice”- Did you know that ice melt can be harmful to pet? It can cause skin irritation and can also be ingested by your pet by licking it off their paws. Ingestion can cause digestive upset and electrolyte imbalance. Be sure to wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them. There are ice melts out there that are “pet safe”. They are non-toxic and usually safe for animals, children, and vegetation. Do you use pet safe ice melt at your home?

Avoid antifreeze poisoning: As people prepare their boats, cars or cabins for winter, pets may inadvertently be exposed to antifreeze. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children.  Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. As little as one teaspoon in a cat or a tablespoon or two for dogs, depending on the size of animal, can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy. While signs may seem to improve after eight to twelve hours, internal damage is actually worsening, and crystals develop in the kidneys, which result in acute kidney failure. Immediate treatment with an antidote is vital.

Mouse and Rat Poisons: To prevent bromethalin toxicosis, ensure that your dog does not have access to rodent poisons.  As you prepare to winterize your garage, cabin, or house, make sure to place poisonous baits in areas where your pet cannot reach them (e.g., high up on shelves, hidden behind work spaces, etc.). If you choose to use rat poision in your home with pets, you will want to stay watchful for dead rodents so that you can properly dispose of them before your pet can get to them.

Horse owners: Give your horses’ shelter and dry warmth. Be sure your horses have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can escape the wind and cold.