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Watch Out For These Winter Toxins!


As the temperature continues to drop, we begin to take precautions to prepare. Throw on more layers, turn up the thermostat, salt the driveway and add antifreeze to your car’s radiator. Although these all may seem like smart safety precautions, some of our winter preparedness items can be harmful for our dogs. Dr. Denise Petryk, on-staff veterinarian at Trupanion pet medical insurance, gave us the following toxins commonly used in winter that all pet parents should watch out for.

#1 – Antifreeze

Antifreeze is a highly toxic substance that smells and tastes deliciously sweet to pets, but just a few licks can be fatal for both cats and dogs. Symptoms of antifreeze ingestion can include staggering, loss of balance, excessive water consumption, depression, abdominal sensitivity and seizures.

  • Keep both new and use antifreeze containers out of reach from pets. Make sure there are no leaks and wipe any excess from the bottle.
  • If you accidentally spill antifreeze or find it leaking from your car radiator, clean it up thoroughly and immediately.
  • Be aware that antifreeze is also used in a number of other household items such as paint, snow globes, solar water heaters and bases of free standing basketball hoops. Keep an eye on wandering and curious pets.
  • If your pet has consumed antifreeze, rapid treatment is vital for survival. An antidote needs to be started within a few hours of ingestion, so give your vet a call immediately.

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#2 – Ice Melt

Salt based ice melting products used on driveways and sidewalks can cause severe dermatitis, inflammation of the paws, vomiting and problems to a pet’s digestive tract if ingested.

Editor’s note: check out Safe Paws as an alternative.

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#3 – Hand Sanitizer

You may use this to keep your hands clean, especially during the winter months when flu season is upon us, but hand sanitizer also contains a large amount of alcohol, which can cause a severe drop in blood sugar, neurological depression, coma, and even death if ingested by your pet. If you suspect your dog ingested this, go to the vet immediately.

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#4 – Over the Counter Drugs

During cold and flu season we tend to reach for what we think of as mild pain relievers, such as Advil, Aleve and Motrin, contain NSAIDs, and can cause a number of dangerous effects. Even Tylenol, which includes Acetaminophen, can be harmful.

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Written by Kristina Lotz

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