🐶 Keep these common household items away from pets this winter

🐱 Exposure and ingestion can quickly send a dog or cat to the hospital

🐶 One NJ vet offers tips to keep your pet healthy this winter

As we begin January here in New Jersey, be aware that there are two common household items used during the winter months that can easily send your pet to the emergency room.

Pouring Antifreeze Washer Fluid into Windshield Washer Tank

Ethylene glycol

This ingredient, commonly found in antifreeze is deadly to animals, said Linda Marie Pedro, associate veterinarian at Murray Hill Vet Associates in New Providence.

Initially, cats and dogs that have exposure to ethylene glycol will start showing that they’re a little drunk and uncoordinated. They get super thirsty and very lethargic. Within 24 to 48 hours, sometimes sooner than that, these animals can be in acute kidney failure, Pedro said.

Ethylene glycol is commonly used in antifreeze which we use to help regulate the engine temperature in our vehicles. But Pedro said it’s also used in the toilets of cabins and Airbnbs to keep the pipes from freezing, and it’s used in snow globes that are typically shipped overseas.

Christmas Snow globe Snowflake with Snowfall on Blue Background

If a snow globe falls and breaks in the house, and a dog or cat happens to lick up the liquid, this could be a deadly issue, she added.

Symptoms can show within three hours of ingestion for cats and typically 8 to 12 hours of ingestion for dogs, Pedro said. There is an antidote that requires hospitalization, and a lot of blood and urine monitoring. If you know your pet ingested ethylene glycol, it’s important not to wait to get the animal help. The sooner treatment can take place, the better chances they have of survival.

Rock salt (Photo: Dan Alexander)
Rock salt (Photo: Dan Alexander)

Rock Salt

With the impending snowstorm that parts of New Jersey are set to encounter this weekend, many residents will be throwing down rock salt on sidewalks and driveways to keep from slipping and falling.

What you may not realize is that rock salt which is used as an ice melt is great for humans, it’s extremely irritant to an animal’s paw pads.

Rock salt is very caustic to a dog and cat’s paws, resulting in topical trauma.

“For a lot of pups, especially when they’re going out for walks, if they will tolerate booties on their feet, by all means. It looks really cute but it’s also very effective to keep them safe,” Pedro said.

attachment-petroleum jelly

Also putting some petroleum jelly on the bottom of their paw pads before going out on a walk can help repel the rock salt from landing on their feet and sticking there, she added.

If a dog or cat licks rock salt from the bottom of their paws or on their bellies, they can experience some indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.

In larger quantities, because it is very high in sodium, it can cause electrolyte abnormalities within the entire body of a dog or a cat. The animal can experience seizures which require hospitalization to get back to normal. But Pedro said the pet would have to have ingested large quantities of rock salt for this to happen.

The most common problem with rock salt remains the topical trauma to the paws.
She said she sees a lot of paw irritation and a lot of redness from rock salt exposure. Animals are coming in licking their paws and the insides of their bellies. Just from the licking, they can create infection and a lot of discomfort.

The good news is that more and more people are aware of the dangers of ethylene glycol so there have not been too many antifreeze exposure incidents coming into Pedro’s practice.

“Anytime these animals are coming in from outside, whether it be related to antifreeze or ice melt or rock salt, wiping their paws, their legs, their bellies just to remove any chemicals they may have had any exposure to and reduce the risk of ingestion and toxins essentially, can be super helpful in the winter months for them,” Pedro said.

Grapes. Red grape. Grape branch isolated on white.
Tim UR

Other Pet Safety Tips

Pedro wants to remind New Jersey, residents, that if you’re baking this winter, keep your dogs and cats away from grapes, raisins, chocolate, bread dough, and yeast. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney problems and the bread dough and yeast can cause serious bloat in the belly.

Keep hand warmers away from your pets too. It’s easy to toss those hand warmers in our coat pockets or somewhere that dogs and cats can get a hold of them.

Fresh Baked Bread
Greg Miller

Hand warmers can cause thermal damage in the stomach. If they eat the hand warmers whole, they can cause a foreign body obstruction in the belly, Pedro warned.

Another tip? Before you get into your car in the winter months, bang on the hood of your car and make some noise. Stray cats, rodents, and squirrels like to climb into hot car motors for warmth.

Just making some noise can be life-saving for an animal.

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