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Help Your Pet Avoid These Winter Toxins

February 1, 2019

The freezing temperatures and arctic landscapes are hazardous enough for our beloved animal companions, but it’s important to remember that wintertime also presents other types of dangers: winter pet toxins! Learn more here as your Waterdown, ON veterinarian tells you what to watch for and how to keep your pet safe.


Antifreeze keeps our vehicles’ engines running during cold weather, but it’s a dangerous substance for pets. Antifreeze is often made with ethylene glycol, a toxic alcohol that can poison pets easily. Antifreeze even smells and tastes sweet, potentially attracting pets! Use antifreeze carefully while pets are indoors, and clean up any spills right away. Store the chemical where pets can’t reach.

Ice Melt

Did you know that salt, when ingested in large amounts, can poison your pet? Since most ice melt products are made with sodium chloride—also known as salt—they’re dangerous winter pet poisons! When you’re taking your pet outdoors, avoid icy patches or any areas where ice melt may have been sprinkled. Check your pet’s paws and limbs when returning indoors to make sure they’re not tracking any inside.

Pesticide Products

The cold weather outside tends to send pests, such as insects and small rodents, inside to seek warmth. If you fend off the problem by using pesticide or rodenticide products in your home, use caution—these substances can poison house pets as easily as the outdoor pests they’re made to kill. Try using pet-safe pesticides whenever you can, and put them in places where pets can’t gain access.

Winter Plant Life

We tend to think of plants and flowers as summertime pet hazards, but the truth is that many plants that thrive in the winter can also harm our cats and dogs. The list includes lilies, holly and mistletoe, Amaryllis, Autumn crocus, certain aloe plants, daffodils, Christmas cactus, and poinsettia plants, among many others. Don’t let your pet chow down on winter plant life in or around your home!


Winter is synonymous with cold and flu season. Remember that a variety of human medications that you and your family members might take to feel better can actually harm your pet. NSAIDs are a particular problem—they’re non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and are common in most households, but they’re quite dangerous for our furry friends! Keep all medications safely locked away.

Our Advice on Help Your Pet Avoid These Winter Toxins

Why is antifreeze a dangerous winter toxin for pets, and how should it be handled?

Antifreeze is dangerous because it contains ethylene glycol, a toxic alcohol that can cause rapid kidney failure in pets. It has a sweet taste that may attract animals. Handle it by using it away from pets, cleaning spills immediately, storing it securely, and considering propylene glycol-based alternatives.

How can ice melt products pose a poisoning risk to pets during winter?

Ice melt products often contain high levels of sodium chloride (salt), which, if ingested in large amounts by pets, can lead to salt poisoning. Pets walking on treated surfaces may lick their paws and ingest the substance. Always clean your pet’s paws after walks and store ice melts out of reach.

What precautions should be taken with pesticide products to prevent pet poisoning?

To prevent pet poisoning from pesticides, use pet-safe products and store them securely out of reach. Apply them in areas inaccessible to pets, and closely follow usage instructions. Monitor your pets to ensure they come into contact with treated areas when it’s safe.

What types of winter plant life are hazardous to pets, and how can owners protect their animals?

Winter-hazardous pet plants include lilies, holly, mistletoe, Amaryllis, Autumn crocus, daffodils, Christmas cacti, and poinsettias. Owners can protect their pets by keeping these plants out of reach, monitoring their animals closely, and opting for pet-safe greenery in and around the home.

Why are medications, especially NSAIDs, a concern for pet safety in winter?

Medications, especially NSAIDs, are a concern for pet safety in winter as humans commonly use them for colds and aches, but they are toxic to pets. Ingesting even small amounts can cause serious harm to a pet’s liver, kidneys, or gastrointestinal tract. Always store medications securely and out of reach.

For more information on winter pet toxins, call your Waterdown, ON vet clinic today.

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