10 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe this Winter

Winter is a time of wonderful holidays, cooler weather and scenic vistas. It is also a time of potential hazards. Here are 10 ways to help you to keep your pet safe this winter.

1. Protect Your Pet from Burns. Winter is the time of year when house fires are more likely to occur. Take special care to monitor wood stoves, space heaters and other heating sources to protect pets from being burned. Burning ambers can get into your pet's coat, or he may be curious and touch hot surfaces. Make sure your smoke detectors have fresh batteries and include your pets when you develop a house fire evacuation plan.

2. Use Care with Candles. Candles are often part of the winter ambiance. Candles are also one of the leading causes of house fires. They can be knocked over by jumping cats, running dogs and wagging tails. Ensure the candle is well weighted with a dome to protect pets. Do not leave the room where there is a lit candle.

3. Place a Fire Sticker on Your Window. Fire hazards are at their peak during the winter months. Place a sticker on your windows to alert firefighters that there are pets inside. Your local humane society or the ASPCA often provides such stickers free of charge. You can also make your own sign. Use a boldly visible paper, such as neon, and stick it on the inside of your windows. Write – "ATTENTION FIREFIGHTERS – PETS INSIDE." You may also want to indicate the number and type of pets such as "2 DOGS and 1 CAT."

4. Take Special Care with Antifreeze. Buy antifreeze that does not contain ethylene glycol. Antifreeze is very toxic due to this chemical component. It is sweet and tasty to pets, and lethal even in small quantities. Buy brands that do not contain ethylene glycol, such as Sierra®, and be sure to keep all antifreeze out of reach of your pets. Even antifreeze without ethylene glycol is toxic in large quantities.

5. Beep Your Horn. Cats often curl up in warm engines in the winter and suffer severe injury from the fan belt when the engine is started. Beeping your horn before starting your engine can help scare cats away.

6. Prevent Frostbite. Frostbite is injury to tissue that occurs when an animal is exposed to freezing temperatures (often accompanied by high winds). Keep your pet warm – provide warm bedding indoors. Minimize exposure to cold temperatures, especially pets that are used to being primarily in warm climates or indoors. Provide good bedding and warm doghouses for outdoor dogs. Severely cold temperatures are intolerable for even the toughest of pets. When the temperature is below freezing, consider allowing your pet to spend sometime indoors. Consider adding a doggie door to the garage or basement door to allow safe escape from severe temperatures.

7. Take Special Care Around Bodies of Water. Be careful around frozen lakes and bodies of water as weak areas can allow pets to fall through. Keep your pets on a leash and do not allow them to navigate on the ice.

8. Protect Your Pets' Feet. Snow and ice often call for rock salt on sidewalks and driveways. Wipe snow and ice off your pet's feet – even clean between the toes – after outdoor walks. Be especially sure to clean paws of lime rock salt or calcium chloride salt, both of which can cause vomiting and diarrhea if the animal licks it.

9. Provide Fresh Water. Ensure your outdoor pet has plenty of water fresh. You can buy commercial dishes that do not freeze, or you can change the water as needed depending on the temperature.

10. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Problems. During the colder months, various heat sources are used to keep us and our pets warm. Make sure these appliances are in good working order. Pets are home more than people are, so they may be affected by carbon monoxide before you notice a problem. Pets kept in the garage are also at risk if you warm your car up. Make sure that there is some ventilation and air circulation in garages. Have your furnace checked out for leaks or high levels of carbon monoxide. Place carbon monoxide detectors in various rooms of the house.