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Wintertime Pet Hazards

January 15 2016

Winter is upon us, and with it comes various pet hazards to be aware of. Here, your McHenry, IL veterinarian tells you about some of the season’s most common dangers and how to keep your pet safe and sound.

Cold Temperatures

Of course, the temperatures of winter are the most prevalent concern. Never allow your pet to stay outdoors for extended periods of time when it’s cold, even if they don’t seem to mind. This is only inviting deadly frostbite and hypothermia, and these issues can even affect pets with thick, warm coats of fur. Restrict outdoor time to quick bathroom breaks and exercise sessions of a few minutes. You may also consider having your animal companion don a warm pet parka or sweater.

Deep Snow

Deep snowbanks should be avoided whenever possible, as pets can sink into them and have trouble getting out. Even athletic dog breeds can thoroughly exhaust themselves trying to trudge through thick snow. Be sure to clear a path for your pet to use the bathroom so they don’t have to trek through snow.


Like us, pets are at risk for slipping on ice, possibly tearing ligaments or hyperextending limbs. In addition, ice may have road salt or a chemical ice-melter product applied to it; if your pet were to pick up these substances on the paws, they may ingest them later, potentially causing harm. Do your best to have your pet avoid any and all ice patches.


Antifreeze is very common in the wintertime, as car owners use it to keep their engines running. Unfortunately, it’s a dangerous pet toxin. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, an alcoholic substance that can poison pets easily. Even worse, it has a sweet smell and taste that may attract pets! Use antifreeze carefully—clean up spills right away, keep pets indoors while using it, and store it safely on a shelf where pets can’t reach.

Car Hazards

Some critters—especially cats—like to seek warmth under cars, in the wheel wells of cars, or in the engine compartment. If they don’t run away when the car is started and moved, disaster could result! To prevent this, give your hood a few sharp raps before starting your car in the morning. This should startle any cats into running off.

Call your McHenry, IL veterinarian’s office to find out more great ways to keep your pet safe this winter.