Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall and Your Pet's Safety

Fall is a beautiful time of year; especially in the northeast; especially in Pennsylvania. Fall also means colder, wintry weather – and the holidays – are just around the corner.

As temperatures drop and as dinners get prepared and decorations get put up for the holidays there is a mental checklist that you should go through to insure your pet is safe and secure. 

First, be sure to have a flea and tick preventive on your pet. Fleas and ticks can be found all year long.  One product that has worked well for us is Parastar flea and tick preventive for dogs and Easyspot for cats. I usually see at least 4-5 clients weekly that have been to the pet shop, or supermarket, or discount stores and still have a flea or tick problem. You are better off going to your veterinarian first. In the long run, it will be cheaper and more effective.

In the colder weather,  pets should have a warm place to sleep that’s off the floor and away from drafts. Wipe dogs’ legs and stomach when they come inside from the snow, sleet or ice. Don’t leave dogs alone in parked cars, as temperatures can fall quickly in a short period of time. 

  • For the holidays, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas ribbons, candles, tinsel, and wrappings can cause intestinal obstruction. The last thing you need is an emergency visit to your vet for an unscheduled surgical procedure. Also, keep in mind that holiday lillies, mistletoe and certain berries can be toxic to your pet.

Be sure your pet is always wearing a form of identification. Microchips are wonderful, if you register your pet with the number on your chip. The is no point in purchasing and installing a microchip, only to leave the registration form in your desk draw. If you buy a microchip, register it with the company the same day. Some companies require you to renew your registration annually.

The classic winter poisoning we see is antifreeze poisoning. If you are preparing your vehicle for the winter months and are changing the antifreeze, take caution in disposing properly and cleaning up any spillage. Many coolant products contain a chemical called ethylene glycol that is highly toxic to your pet. Ten teaspoons can kill a 20 pound dog, much less for a cat. Kidney failure and death can occur in as little as four to eight hours. Newer products that contain propylene glycol are generally considered safe. If you suspect your dog or cat has swollowed antifreeze, call your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic immediately. 
Be sure to take a look outside. If your dog spends time outdoors in the winter, it is crucial to make sure he has clean warm bedding and shelter from the elements. A garage or a large insulated doghouse will make a big difference in the warmth and comfort of your outdoor pet. All outdoor bedding should be washed and treated for fleas and ticks before replacing it in the dog’s space.
We can't forget the mice and other rodents that are seeking warmth for the winter. You can't blame them, but they are still a nuisance. Take caution when using rodenticides around the home as these can be toxic to pets and can cause bleeding disorders that can be deadly. Consider using traps instead.
Be sure to have your pet scheduled for a therapeutic bath and grooming for the holidays. If you go to the trouble of preparing every little detail for your holiday celebration, shouldn't your pet look its best?
Many families will bring their pets with them when they visit friends and relatives. Be sure to have your pet up to date on all the appropriate vaccinations. Please check this by making a call to your veterinarian's office.

When it comes to all meals, but especially holiday meals:  they can  pose a medical threat for your pet. Chicken and turkey bones can get stuck or can pierce holes in any portion of the digestive tract. Rich foods can cause sudden pancreatitis or bloat. Keep holiday meals, leftovers and table scraps out of reach of your pet.

The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at