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As winter envelops us, drawing us indoors for warmth, it's essential to be mindful of our furry companions' safety amid the snug confines of home. While we cozy up with our pets, there are hidden dangers that could compromise their well-being. From common household toxins to the effects of ageing, here's what every pet owner should know to ensure their furry friends stay safe and comfortable this winter.

Common Household Toxins

  1. Chocolate: This delectable treat for humans contains theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to dogs and cats, leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.
  2. Grapes and Raisins: These seemingly harmless snacks can cause kidney failure in dogs, manifesting as vomiting, lethargy, and decreased urine production.
  3. Antifreeze Products: Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, and pet heating and warming toys, some heaters and cars. Poses a grave threat to pets even in small doses, causing kidney failure and potentially fatal consequences.
  4. Paracetamol (Acetaminophen): While a common pain reliever for humans, paracetamol is toxic to cats, causing severe damage to their red blood cells and liver.
  5. Tea Tree/Eucalyptus Oil: These essential oils, often found in household products, can be toxic to cats if ingested, inhaled or applied topically, leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. (This can include grooming after walking on wet floors).
  6. Rodenticides and Pesticides: Chemicals used in rat bait and snail bait are lethal if ingested by pets, resulting in internal bleeding, seizures and other serious health issues.
  7. Onions and Garlic: These common kitchen ingredients can cause gastrointestinal irritation and lead to red blood cell destruction in both dogs and cats, causing an extremely dangerous anaemia.
  8. Bins: Household waste bins, especially those in bathrooms, may contain hazardous substances like cleaning chemicals, medications, and sanitary items that could pose a danger to pets if ingested.

*Top tip! Your puppy and even older dogs will get immense pleasure destroying, rummaging and ingesting smelly bin contents and dirty underwear or socks so keep these out of reach or in a cupboard\)

Here are some additional household hazards to watch out for:

  • Teflon: Birds are particularly susceptible to toxic fumes emitted by heated Teflon pans or cookers, which can cause respiratory distress and death. * Hot tip - if there is a black or grey coating on your cooking pan, or toasted sandwich maker – it is TEFLON
  • Lilies: Lilies in all forms are deadly to cats. Even the pollen can cause life-threatening kidney failure. For more information on poisonous plants, refer to the ASPCA's list of toxic and non-toxic plants.

How to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort

Safeguard your pet during winter by:

  • Pet-Proofing Your Home: Keep hazardous substances out of reach and securely store household cleaners, medications, and other potentially harmful items.
  • Regular Veterinary Check-Ups: Schedule routine check-ups to monitor your pet's health, especially their joint health and mobility. Aging pets may experience joint stiffness and decreased mobility, particularly in colder weather. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on managing any discomfort and suggest appropriate treatments or supplements.
  • Providing Warmth: Invest in cozy winter jackets, sweaters or beds for your pet and create a warm indoor environment with blankets and pet-friendly heating pads.

Now here is a tip for pet owners who are studying:

Balancing pet care with your studies can be challenging, but with a few strategies, you can ensure both your pet and your coursework get the attention they need:

  1. Create a Schedule: Allocate specific times for studying and pet care. A routine can help manage your time effectively and ensure your pet gets the necessary attention.
  2. Study Breaks: Use study breaks to play with or walk your pet. This not only gives your mind a break but also keeps your pet active and happy.
  3. Quiet Study Area: Set up a designated, quiet study area where you can focus without distractions. Ensure your pet has their own comfortable space nearby.
  4. Combine Study and Pet Time: If feasible, combine study time with pet time. For example, read or review notes while your pet sits with you.

If you have any questions about your course or need additional study tips, I'm here to help. You can reach out to me for support using my make a call link and chat about anything industry or content you want to know about.

As we embrace the winter season, let's prioritise the safety and well-being of our furry companions by being mindful of household toxins and providing them with the warmth and care they need.  Thank you for your commitment to your study and your pet's health and happiness. Until next time, stay safe and warm!

Signing off for now

Erin Sharp

Animal Mentor for Animal Health & Veterinary Care Courses

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