Vet warns dog owners of dangerous winter toxins and other health risks
Dog owners have been warned about some of the dangers around when walking their dogs this month, as temperatures could plummet as low as -6C.
Taking your dog for a walk once or twice a day is imperative for your dog’s overall health but what are some things to be aware of when taking your dog for a walk in the cold?
Dr Kirsten Ronngren, a veterinary surgeon at Many Pets, has shared her top tips for walking a dog in the cold and how to avoid winter health worries.
She said: “Our dogs rely on us to ensure they are well-exercised, and a walk is great mental stimulation.
“Dog walks are also beneficial to our own mental health so it's really important for you both to keep up your dog walks, even in the cold.
“With the freezing fog on the way, it’s important to be aware of some of the dangers when walking your dog in the cold and make sure that you know what to look out for to keep them safe.”
These are some things to look out for when walking your dog in the cold.
Rock salt can harm your dog
Dr Ronngren has warned that rock salt, used on pavements and roads to stop us from lipping, can be harmful to dogs.
She said: “It can cause sores on dogs' skin and an upset tummy if ingested. Even if small amounts are ingested it can lead to high blood sodium, which affects dogs' kidneys.
Always wash their feet and legs if you see it on their fur. If you suspect they've ingested some, seek veterinary advice.”
Antifreeze in puddles
Dr Ronngren said: “At any time of year you should try to stop your dog drinking from puddles or stagnant water. But during the winter months, there's a higher risk of antifreeze spilling into puddles.
“If a dog ingests antifreeze it can cause serious health problems and it isn’t always immediately obvious something is wrong. As with all toxins, contact your vet.
“You can also use the animal poison line 01202 509 000.”
Alabama rot is a cold weather toxin that gets discussed in winter months amongst worried pet owners.
While case numbers are very low in the UK, this disease can have severe effects.
Pet owners, particularly those that walk in wooded areas, should be on the lookout for skin sores, especially those that aren’t associated with a cut or scrape.
Oftentimes these spots are on the lower half of the body, where mud and dirt collect. In more serious cases, your dog may show vague symptoms like lethargy or decreased appetite.
Avoidance is a challenge since research is still being done on the underlying cause. Most will encourage bathing to remove debris after a walk.
Dr. Ronngren added: “If you’re worried this is a possibility for your pup, it’s best to contact your vet as soon as possible.”