All antifreeze products need to be carefully secured in an area that is out of reach for pets – and children, for that matter. All spills should be cleaned immediately using a water hose or similar procedure. In addition, if you are out walking and see a puddle in the street or on a driveway, do not let your pet walk through it or drink from it.
If you suspect that your pet has ingested even a small amount of antifreeze, the best thing you can do is call your veterinarian or local emergency animal clinic immediately. Ethylene glycol is a fast acting chemical, and minutes can make a difference.
Your pet may not be complaining about the cold, and is probably even having a blast playing in the snow, but just like us, animals do not always notice that their skin has started to feel funny. As the body’s temperature decreases in response to the outdoor temperature, blood is diverted to the core systems, leaving the outer organ, the skin, at risk of freezing. Once the skin has been frozen by the ice and snow, there is tissue damage, basically causing a condition akin to burning. At highest risk for frostbite are the footpads, nose, ear tips and tail.
Upon returning home after being outdoors for an extended time, or when the temperatures are especially low, check your pet’s risk points (along with the rest of the body). Early symptoms of frostbite include pale, hard skin that remains very cold even after being inside. As the skin warms, it may swell and change to a red color.
Your pet may try to relieve the irritation by licking and chewing on the skin, in which case you will need to have the skin treated and covered immediately before permanent damage is done.
Never apply direct heat to the skin, water or otherwise. Only tepid to warm water should be used on the skin, and non-electric blankets to cover the animal. You may need to consult with a veterinarian to make sure that the condition is not severe.
In some cases of severe frostbite the tissue needs to be removed, or the limb removed before the dead tissue allows infection to set in.
Hopefully, this has educated you and not frightened you. These are just some of the ways you can protect your pet, so that you do not need to worry yourself over anything, and so that you and your pet can have a great time in the snow and on the ice.
Image: Adam Baker / via Flickr