By Alleah Boisvert
Winters in Edmonton have their pros and cons. We’ve faced extreme ice, freezing rain, massive snowfalls, and cold weather that freezes our eyelashes. Fortunately, winter in Edmonton also means fun holiday festivals, comforting food, and time off school to hang out with our friends–both human and animal! While we know how to take care of ourselves during the winter season, it can be more challenging to know how to protect our pets. Here are winter warnings and tips to keep them safe this season.
The Weather Outside Is Frightful
There are lots of hazards for pets during winter, including extremely cold weather. Like hot cars in summer, pets should never be left in a cold car. A winter rule to go by is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them! It’s a good idea to grab winter gear for your pets if they have short coats, are small, or are elderly. Booties can protect your dog’s paws from being irritated by salt, and their paws should always be wiped clean if they are wet or had contact with any chemicals. Antifreeze is another harmful chemical that should be kept away from animals as it is extremely toxic if ingested. Another risk that some might not consider is thin ice near dog parks. Dogs should always be leashed in areas where it is the bylaw, but even in an off-leash park, they need to be kept away from open water where ice might be thin. Since it gets dark so much earlier now, be sure to have reflective gear for you and your pet for those after-dinner walks.
All I Want for Christmas is Food
Around Christmas, there are lots of foods that can be toxic to pets. Chocolate, onions, grapes, and anything containing xylitol is poisonous for pets. Pets should also never be fed table scraps as fatty foods can lead to very serious cases of pancreatitis. Cooked bones might seem like a good idea, but they can splinter much easier than raw bones and cause blockages and internal wounds. Make sure to set boundaries with guests who try to sneak any snacks to the family pet.
Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
During Christmas, pet owners should be wary of their pets around their Christmas tree. If you have a real tree, the needles can be harmful if swallowed, and many of the decorations (tinsel, glass baubles, etc.) can cause damage. Mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly berries are all toxic to pets. Lilies are especially poisonous to cats – even a sniff of the golden dust can cause kidney failure, so it’s best to avoid keeping this plant in your house at all.
‘Tis the Season
This can be a stressful time for everyone, including animals in the household. Make sure there is somewhere secure and quiet for your pet to hide if they are overwhelmed by houseguests or if there are any New Years’ fireworks. Double-check to be sure that your pet is microchipped in case they make an escape when they’re feeling frightened.
To be prepared for emergency situations, make sure that you are familiar with your nearest vet clinic and its hours. Have a contingency plan in case something goes wrong – leave emergency numbers for pet-sitters, save money for unexpected vet visits, have backup medication and pet supplies in case of a power outage, and be mindful of your pet’s behavior when they’re curious about any holiday items in the house. For after-hour emergencies, Guardian Vet Clinic is a 24-hour emergency clinic in Edmonton that can be reached at 780-436-5880.