Winter Hazards & Your Pets

The winter season is a wonderful time of year for everyone, but can also be a stressful time as well. With lots of time spent outside in the snow, and preparing for those pesky winter storms! It is important to make sure it is a safe and happy time for everyone, including your pets! Keeping them safe and warm during the winter months is important for their health. Here are some hazards you need to watch out for:


Antifreeze can leak from car radiators onto the ground and can be appealing to pets due to its sweet smell and taste. If your pet ingests antifreeze it is absorbed very rapidly. There is a narrow margin of safety and even small amounts can lead to permanent damage to the kidneys. If your pet ingests any amount of antifreeze, they should receive medical care immediately from a veterinarian.

Ice Melts

Most ice melts contain a large amount of sodium salts and can cause damage to paw pads when stepped on. These ice melts can get stuck in between the paw pads and cause redness, irritation, chapping and cracking. Ingestion of the melts can also cause upset stomach, vomiting and neurological symptoms, such as seizures, tremors and difficulty walking. To help with this issue, you can purchase “pet-friendly” ice melts that may help to minimize toxicity and injury to your pet and others. As a pet owner, you can also try putting dog booties on while they are out for a walk to prevent the ice melts from causing any injuries or washing your pet’s footpads when coming in from outside.

Frost Bite & Hypothermia

During extreme winter weather, we can sometimes experience extremely cold temperatures that could possibly cause your pet to develop frostbite or hypothermia. When it is very cold the body naturally pulls blood from the extremities to warm the internal organs to retain body heat and can cause your pet’s ears, tails and paws exposed causing tissue damage and cause frostbite. Dogs that are short-haired, are small or geriatric are at greater risk. To help prevent these issues you should keep your pet inside as much as possible, only letting them outside for short periods of time and applying a sweater/jacket and booties to keep them warm while they are outside.

Outdoor/Stray Cats and Cars

When it is extremely cold outside during the winter months stray or outdoor cats will look for a place to stay warm and will sometimes take a nap on a warm car engine. If your car is started while a feline is underneath, it can cause serious injury or death when the fan belt starts moving. To help prevent this from occurring it is best to bang on the top of the hood or honking the horn before starting your vehicle. If you have a remote start on your vehicle, it is best to honk before starting the vehicle.

Rodent Poisons

During the colder months’ rodents are always looking for a warm place to stay, and most homeowners do not want these critters making themselves comfortable in their home. Therefore, these products are more commonly used during the winter months and your pet is at a higher risk for ingesting these toxic substances. There are different ingredients in the blocks or pellets used, but the products usually look the same because they are dyed. If you are placing mice or rat poison, make sure you keep the packaging in case your pet ingests the poison. In the event that your pet does ingest these products, your vet a poison control will be able to help you more efficiently if they know exactly what is in the product. If your pet ingests the poison you should contact your veterinarian and poison control immediately. These toxins can cause multiple different symptoms including internal bleeding, brain swelling and kidney failure. To help prevent this, place the poison in protective bait stations and keep in areas that are not accessible to your pets.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at 416.752.5114 and one of our team members will be happy to assist you!

Written by Lisa, RVT