Winter Hazards for Pets


I don’t know about you, but it seems like it was only yesterday that winter was here and we where hiding under the blankets to keep warm, going on potty strikes because it was too cold, or snowy, or windy, or icy.

Unfortunately, as much as we would like to skip this nasty winter weather, short of hoping a plane to an exotic destination, winter is coming and we have to deal with it.  Along with the usual weather discomforts come other dangers and hazards for pets.

In this post of Vet Chat with Dr. Ryan Llera, he discusses potential hazards for your pets during the winter months.

Winter Hazards for Your Pets to Avoid

Winter is coming…. No this is not my attempt to finish writing the Game of Thrones books. We need to talk about getting your pets through another chilly season and the “experts” here in Kingston say it will be bad. The rest of southern Ontario may be spared but not our northern friends. Proper preparation can prevent veterinary visits during the holiday season.




You may be changing your car’s antifreeze and some pets just don’t know better. Supposedly it tastes like maple syrup to them but I’m not sure how veterinarians discovered that. The problem is that they only need a small amount to send them into severe neurological disease that then progress into a likely fatal kidney failure. Moral of the story: clean up your messes like your parents taught you.

Outdoor Pets

Now how about those pets who live outdoors. Personally, I could never recommend it or do it myself. If it’s too cold for me, it’s too cold for them! But I also understand that everyone has their own reasons. They still need the necessities starting with some shelter. Make sure they can get inside or consider building a shelter outside (there are several design ideas especially for cats on the web). It should have plenty of insulation or you may need to continuously stock it with heat disks or oat bags to keep it warm. Electric heating blankets are not safe! Along with freezing temperatures comes frozen water bowls. I can’t recommend electric bowls which are available on the market because we all know that water & electricity don’t mix. Again, something such as a Snuggle Safe heat disc can be placed under a metal bowl to slow down freezing. Thick plastic or thermal type bowls can also slow down the freezing as can bowls that are deeper & wider. In the end, it’s just easier to keep them indoors.

Baking Season

raw dough

The holidays are coming! For many people, that means baking whether it be cookies, breads, or a fruitcake. While the finished products are quite yummy and can be harmful to your pets, it really is the ingredients that cause problems. We already know chocolate is bad but another common ingredient is raisins. Raisins (and grapes) cause kidney failure. Dough, in the raw form, is loaded with yeast. If your dog or cat were to eat the dough, their stomach will act as an oven. The dough will expand and gas will be released which can cause some uncomfortable bloating. Additionally, the yeast will release ethanol and cause alcohol poisoning. I always like to keep my pets out of the kitchen when cooking, not only for their safety but so I’m not getting a false idea that my cooking is good.

Winter Wear & Paw Safety


Even though they may be indoors, you’re dogs still need to get outside. With winter comes shorter days and darker nights. For this reason, it is a good idea to get them (as well as yourself) some reflective wear, whether it be a leash, collar, or coat to be more visible during nighttime walks. But what about that salt? For many pets, the salt can be irritating causing an almost burning like sensation. If they happen to be more curious, eating the salt can also be toxic causing increased thirst, vomiting, and even convulsions or kidney damage in larger amounts. There are pet safe forms for your driveway but a city won’t likely be using this on sidewalks & roadways. Consider boots for your dogs or make sure that you wipe their feet before coming in the house.

 Cats & Cars

As a last reminder, for all those stray cats outdoors looking for a warm place, don’t forget to knock on your car hood or check before you get a start on your day.

I hope that you all will have a safe and healthy winter season!

Stay warm!!

Thank you Dr.R. Llera for alerting us to the potential winter hazards for our pets!  To read more about life as a Veterinarian and other topics of discussion, visit Dr. Llera’s blog

Author: Kelly Harding

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