Winter is upon us and with it comes potential new dangers for dogs, both inside and outside of the home, some of which might surprise you because according to new research, only two fifths of dog owners are aware of the seasonal issues their dogs may face in winter.
According to Direct Line Pet Insurance, some of the biggest hazards include hidden dangers such as nettles, broken glass, pieces of metal and even fallen fruits, obscured by darker morning and evening walks. Spilt antifreeze, which can poison animals, is also a very real danger and can be hard to see when it's dark and wet outside.
At this time of year, potential dangers can also lurk inside the home. Festive foliage such as mistletoe, poinsettia and holly and can irritate dogs’ fur, and if swallowed, can lead to poisoning.
Direct Line disclosed that in 2018, over 1000 claims made throughout the year were made because of pets being poisoned from plants and foods, such as chocolate, so it’s important that owners are aware of the potential dangers that lurk inside the home and out at this time of year.
Biggest winter worries for dog owners
6 in 10 pet owners revealed that fireworks cause them the most anxiety during the winter months. Noise phobias can cause pets to suffer from stress and anxiety, and even run off if they are caught unawares by the explosions while outside. In October, it was even reported that a dog had died from a heart attack as a result of the stress caused by fireworks.
Seasonal canine illness, which has taken the lives of over 100 dogs over the last few years, is the second biggest worry with almost half (48 per cent) of dog owners admitting it's a concern.
As a result, dog owners may naturally reduce the time they spend outdoors. In fact, a third of dog owners admitted to the pet insurer that they change their habitual walks during winter, both by the length of time and route.
Madeleine Pike, Veterinary Nurse at Direct Line, offered this advice to dog owners:
“With shorter days and fewer hours of sunlight in winter, the hazards outside of the home for dogs can be less obvious. Hidden dangers on walks, licking spilt antifreeze and eating fallen fruits can cause severe injury to dogs and can make them very unwell. We encourage owners to be extra cautious of the outdoor risks that can occur this season.
“Similar threats can be found inside the home. It’s common for visitors to have the tendency to sneakily feed ’treats’ to your pet. Chocolates, nuts and raisins are just some of the foods which are poisonous to dogs and can lead to severe indigestion and distress. With smaller dogs like Chihuahuas, Terriers and Pugs, it could be catastrophic. We urge all dog owners to be aware of what their pet is eating this winter and stick to dog friendly treats.”
Direct Line’s 5 tips for keeping dogs safe this winter
1. After a walk, take a few seconds to look for any wounds, cuts or injuries on your dog.
2. Salt and grit used on roads in winter can irritate a pet's paws. If you use salt around your home, choose a pet-safe product.
3. If you can, try to walk your dog when it is light or in well-lit areas and parks so that hazards can be more visible.
4. Only treat your pets to dog friendly foods. Be cautious of what friends and family may give your dog as a “treat”.
If owners feel that their dog has eaten something that they shouldn’t or if they have any concerns, Direct Line Pet customers can connect with a vet 24/7 through PawSquad which is provided for free with their pet policy. If in doubt customers should get their pet to the vet immediately.
5. Keep your dog warm with protective blankets. Overnight temperatures can massively drop, and dogs can run the risk of getting hypothermia.