Common Winter Pet Emergencies in Boston, MA

Winter has officially begun here in Boston, MA, and our beloved pets face many cold weather hazards just like we do, and some of these can turn into emergencies without the proper precautions. At Back Bay Veterinary Clinic, we’re committed to helping you keep your pets safe and healthy through the winter season and beyond. This blog will explore common winter pet emergencies and offer tips for prevention. Remember, for personalized advice and urgent pet care, don’t hesitate to call us at (617) 245-2710.

common winter pet emergencies in boston ma

Understanding Common Winter Pet Emergencies

Winter can be particularly harsh here in Boston, bringing with it various risks for dogs and cats. Here are some of the most common:

    • Frostbite and Hypothermia: Prolonged exposure to cold weather can lead to these serious conditions.
    • Antifreeze Poisoning: Pets may ingest this toxic substance from spills on the ground.
    • Dry Skin and Paws: Cold weather can cause painful skin irritation and cracked paws.
    • Accidental Injuries: Ice and snow can increase the risk of slips and falls. 
    • Salt and Ice Melt Toxicity: Certain ice melts can be harmful if licked off paws or fur, and can irritate your pet’s skin.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Pets can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia, just like humans, when exposed to cold temperatures for too long. Signs of frostbite and hypothermia in pets include shivering, lethargy, and pale or blue skin. Prevention is simple but extremely important: limit your pet’s outdoor time and keep them in the warmth and shelter of your home as much as possible. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet. 

Antifreeze Poisoning

Antifreeze, with its sweet smell and taste, can attract pets, and ingestion can make them very sick or be fatal. Take care to prevent antifreeze poisoning by promptly cleaning up any antifreeze spills and storing antifreeze in a secure container out of your pet’s reach.

Dry Skin and Paws

Cold air can dry out your pet’s skin and paws, leading to discomfort. Help to prevent cracks and irritation and keep your pet’s skin moisturized and soft with pet-safe balms.

Accidental Injuries

Icy conditions can increase your pet’s risk for slips and falls, especially if they are older and have arthritis. Use pet-safe ice melt to remove icy surfaces outside your home and on walks, try to steer your pet around frozen patches on the ground. 

Salt and Ice Melt Toxicity

Many ice-melting products contain salts that may be toxic to pets if ingested. These can irritate paws and, if consumed, can cause health issues. Use pet-safe ice melts whenever possible and clean your pet’s paws after outdoor walks to remove any residue and prevent your pet from licking at the salt.

Recognizing and Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia in Pets

Frostbite and hypothermia are the most significant risks your pet can face during the winter. It’s crucial to understand that dogs and cats are just as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia as people. Look for signs such as shivering, lethargy, a weak pulse, and discolored skin (may appear pale, gray, or bluish). Remember, the best prevention is limiting your pet’s exposure to extreme cold and ensuring they have a warm, cozy place to curl up.

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe During Boston’s Winter

Keep these practical tips in mind to keep your pet cozy and healthy this winter:

  • Limit Outdoor Exposure: Shorten walks with your pet and supervise their outdoor playtime to prevent cold-related health issues.
  • Pet-Friendly Ice Melt: Use pet-friendly ice melt products to prevent paw irritation and toxicity.
  • Regular Grooming: Brushing your pet regularly helps maintain their skin health and the insulating properties of their coat.
  • Appropriate Clothing: Consider pet-sized coats or booties to provide extra warmth, especially if your pet is a short-haired breed.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

Winter in Boston can pose significant health risks for our pets, but with awareness and proactive care, you can keep them safe and healthy. At Back Bay Veterinary Clinic, we are here to support you and your pets through every season. If you suspect your pet is experiencing a winter-related emergency, such as prolonged shivering, weakness, or confusion, be sure to seek veterinary care immediately. Contact Back Bay Veterinary Clinic at (617) 245-2710 for guidance and to schedule an appointment.