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Cold winter temperatures can bring some added home health hazards to our beloved canine companions. Menacing icicles, smoldering fireplace embers, and curiosity-inducing holiday decorations all make for seasonal safety issues that can pose a risk to your pet.
Follow these home winterization tips to keep your dog safe.
Check Your Heating System Before your heating system heads into overdrive for the season, make sure to get an inspection. A thorough system check can prevent a breakdown that would leave your pet cold if you were away for the day, as well as even more dangerous situations like carbon monoxide leaks.
Keep Driveways and Sidewalks Clear Icy pathways and the salt used to clear them can both lead to dangerous situations. Icy surfaces can cause slipping injuries for pets that are elderly or less nimble. They can also cause frostbite, so do your dog’s paws a favor and keep common surfaces snow- and ice-free. Also, if you use a deicer product instead of shoveling or after shoveling, make sure it’s salt-free. Salt is poisonous for pets and can easily collect in their pads. One lick after some outdoor play can lead to an emergency medical situation.
Properly Store Antifreeze Each year, an astonishing 90,000 pets are poisoned from the common chemical antifreeze. The sweet-tasting ethylene glycol can leak or spill from your car’s radiator, leaving a puddle of poison. Be sure to keep antifreeze containers out of reach, and clean up any leaks immediately. Also, if you have an older car that’s prone to leaks, switch to an antifreeze that’s ethylene glycol-free for your pet’s safety.
Clear Your Gutters Gutters and eaves that are blocked with leaves and debris can lead to ice damming, and ice damming means icicles. While these may look beautiful, they can be a risk to your dog when they fall.
Fireplace Safety Whether you have a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace, you’ll need to take some safety precautions for your four-legged friends. Protect your pet from shooting embers with a proper fireguard screen. And if you have a curious pup, ashes and small stones found in unlit fireplaces can cause safety hazards, so plan on gating it off. If you operate a gas fireplace, be sure the damper is open to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Pup-Proof Your Pool An estimated 5,000 family pets drown in backyard pools each year, and most drownings occur in the cold winter months. Even pets that are natural swimmers can be shocked by freezing cold water, which can lead to rapid drowning. If you own a pool and you’re a pet owner, it’s critical to add a properly-fitted safety pool cover to your arsenal of pool supplies.
Holiday Decorating Hazards As you ready your home for holiday decorating, there are plenty of extra precautions you’ll need to take to keep your pet safe.
If you have a live tree, be sure to keep your dog out of the water and away from the pine needles. Tree water can become contaminated with poisonous fertilizer, and pine needles aren’t digestible, which can lead to illness.
Avoid poisonous holiday plants, such as mistletoe and holly.
Christmas light strands that are chewed on by curious pets can lead to house fires.
Holiday decorations often mean more extension cords, and improperly-covered extension cords pose electrical shock risks for chewing dogs.
Ornaments and their hangers can cause significant problems for curious pups.
When you’re done unwrapping this season’s holiday presents, be sure to clean up all of the wrapping paper along with any ribbons and bows. These colorful curiosities make for interesting play, and when ingested, can lead to a holiday evening at the emergency vet clinic.
If you’re like most dog owners, your pet is part of your family, and keeping your loved one safe is of the utmost importance. Far too many preventable tragedies occur each year in homes where owners fail to properly prepare. Take some time to get your home ready so you and your furry friend can enjoy a warm snuggle by the fire without worry.
About the Author:
Cindy Aldridge is a freelance writer and dog lover. She started Ourdogfriends.org as a fun side project for herself and to educate pet owners and potential pet owners about how dogs can enrich our lives. She enjoys writing about dogs and pet ownership.