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Top 10 Most Surprising Winter Dangers For Your Dog

It doesn’t matter if you love the winter wonderland or dread it; it’s coming! That picturesque scenery can be deceiving hiding some surprising, often overlooked, dangers for your precious dog. Cold, snow, sleet, and ice all contribute to hazardous conditions. Recognizing potential risks and preventions will help you keep you dog safe this winter season. You will have peace of mind all season long. We have put together a list of our top 10 most surprising winter dangers for your dog.

My husband calls me a helicopter parent. I was always hoovering over my kids making sure they were safe, and I am the same with my dogs (ok, all my animals). I can’t help it! I’ll admit I’m a bit neurotic, but it’s helped us avoid quite a lot of potential accidents and injuries. My favorite phrases have always been better safe than sorry and an ounce of prevention. Sure, accidents may still happen but most devastating ones can be avoided.

Winter offers it own unique set of dangers for your dog.

Rodent Control

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As the temperatures drop rodents, like mice and rats, start looking for a warm place to survive the cold temperatures. Your home offers them everything they need to survive the winter, warmth and food. Of course, this is something that needs to be controlled as rodents pose their own threats and most of us turn to rodent poisons or snapping traps.

Snapping Traps

These type of traps work on a spring mechanism. When triggered a metal bar snaps down killing (most of the time) the rodent. It goes with out saying but these traps can cause physical injury to your dog as well; breaking bones in noses and feet.


These poisons are extremely toxic but made to taste good, how else are they going to attract a rat? They taste good to your dog too. Your dog also is at risk of 2nd hand poisoning by eating a rodent that has ingested the rodenticide. Depending on the type of rodenticide you use your dog will display a host of different symptoms from brain swelling, clotting issues, seizures and more. Worst part is that not all types of rodenticides are easily treated, but if not treated all are deadly. It is important you keep the packaging of all products you use so you can notify your vet as each poison has a different treatment.

Dog Friendly Options for Rodent Control

Doing a dog or pet friendly rodent control search on the internet will lead you to many options that are safer to use around your dog. Some options are better than others. Look for traps that only allow the rodent to get to the bait such as the A24 Rat and Mouse Trap.

Rocksalt Deicers

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This little poodle tries to get through the snow without getting his paw too cold!

It’s winter walkways and driveways are going to get icy posing a falling hazard for both you and your dog. A popular way to combat the ice is with a deicer. Deicers are made of different types of salt commonly containing sodium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride or magnesium chloride. Rocksalt poses two winter dangers for your dog. When applied to ice a chemical reaction occurs producing heat which can severely burn your dog’s paw. Beyond a burn, rocksalt can cause salt poisoning when ingested normally through licking feet or eating contaminated snow. However, some dog’s actually like the salty taste and will seek it out.

How To Avoid Rocksalt Hazard

Pet friendly rocksalt alternatives are available and perfect to use around your home. However, rocksalt is used by a lot of municipalities to keep both roadways and walkways ice free. When walking your dog on public walkways use booties or wash your dog’s paws thoroughly after ever walk. Plowing can also deposit rocksalt contaminated snow in the front of your lawn, because of this do not let your dog eat snow from the front yard.

Cold Temperatures Bring Winter Dangers

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Funny portrait of dog in winter landscape. Labrador retriever with cap on his head.

Contrary to popular belief dog’s aren’t more resistant colder temperatures. Even with a fur coat dogs can still get cold. Shorthaired, lean dog breeds need to have protection from the cold, but sometimes so do heavier coated breeds especially the elderly. The cold, itself, can cause hypothermia and frostbite and hidden ice can cause falls and cuts. Remember if it’s too cold for you outside, it’s probably too cold for them.

How to Avoid Cold Injuries

Just like you bundle up to brave the cold you can bundle up your dog. Coats, booties, even hats are easily found and will keep your dog much warmer when they have to go outside.


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This is an important component to our vehicles but extremely poisonous to our dogs. The big problem is that it taste sweet and enticing to consume leading to the perfect storm. Antifreeze causes kidney failure which is often fatal in a few days. If you suspect antifreeze poisoning call your vet immediately. The quicker he receives treatment the more likely he is to recover.

Antifreeze Poisoning Prevention

Keep all antifreeze away from your dog. Clean up any spills in your driveway or garage and take used antifreeze to a service station for disposal. Switch to products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol as they are less toxic.

Holiday House Plants

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Christmas home decoration. Copy space.

Tis the season, right? Holidays come with a host of popular holiday house plants such as lilies, poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe. All of these common holiday plants are toxic to dogs causing vomiting, diarrhea, or even heart attack. Check the full list of poisonous house plants at the ASPCA.

 How to Avoid Holiday House Plant dangers

Switching out live plants for fake is the best way to avoid your dog being exposed to these potentially lethal plants.

Holiday Foods

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Bad dog jumping up on counter stealing Thanksgiving holiday dinner turkey

Raisins, chocolate, and Xylitol, oh my! This is one of the biggest winter dangers! With the holiday season comes holiday foods that are packed with toxic ingredients. Make yourself familiar with foods that pose a threat to your dog and keep them far away from him.

Avoiding Holiday Food Dangers

Unfortunately, the only way is through due diligence. Knowing what your dog can and cannot eat is the start and from there keeping it out of reach from your pup. Make sure all garbage is contained where your dog cannot get into it. Never allow your dog to chew on cooked bones.

Holiday Decorations

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Farmhouse style Christmas background with decorated tree and decor objects

Who doesn’t like holiday decorations? They transform your home into a special place. Many, however beautiful, do pose a danger to your dog causing severe issues. All those extra electrical cords, an enticing Christmas tree filled with dog toy shaped objects, donned with tinsel sometimes are just irresistible. Trees can topple over when your dog tugs on ornaments, tinsel causes intestinal blockages, glass ornaments can cut mouths and feet, swallowed hooks can pierce the digestive tract, and candles can cause burns or an out right fire. So much for that happy holiday feeling! More like a holiday nightmare.

How to Avoid Holiday Decoration Disaster

First, forego the tinsel completely. Cover exposed electrical cords in chew-proof coverings. Attach the tree to the wall with a string to prevent it from falling over, and switch from glass ornaments to anti-shatter plastic ones. If your dog is overly interested in your Christmas tree put a fence around it.

Cars are Bad, Even in Winter

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Traveling with dog. Yellow labrador retriever looking through window of the car in snowy nature.

We all know leaving your dog in the car during the summer is bad. Temperatures can climb and basically bake your dog. Most don’t realize leaving your dog in the car for long period of time during the winter can be just as bad. Instead of the heat, your car will quickly cool leaving your dog at risk for serious cold related issues.

Danger of Space Heaters

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Feet in bright socks near electric fan heater at home. Close-up, selective focus.

It’s cold, and to combat the cold many of us have opted to use space heaters. They are great for making one room a little more comfortable, but are a very serious winter danger for your dog and for you. Dogs can get kind of rambunctious indoors, especially if they’re getting less outdoor play. They can easily knock over a space heater or knock flammable materials down onto it possibly resulting in fires.

How to Keep Everyone Safe with A Space Heater

First, never keep flammable material near or around a space heater. Unlike the space heaters of old, some newer models have safety tip-over detection. You can also place space heaters inside a penned off area keeping it free and clear of the dog. And never, ever, EVER let a space heater run unattended. Make sure they re off before your go to bed or leave the house.

Frozen Lakes and Ponds

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The mongrel walks on the ice of the lake

A beautiful untouched blanket of snow can hide all sorts of winter dangers, but one of the most dangerous is frozen water. Again, people don’t think dogs are susceptible to the same cold issues as we are. Falling into or willingly swimming in frozen water can quickly drop your dogs core temperature. Not to mention, they can become trapped in the water by broken ice and rescue can be very difficult if not impossible.

How to Avoid Dangers from Frozen Lakes and Ponds

Keep your dog on a leash while walking around known lakes and ponds. Snow can hide the presence of a pond or small lake so always keep your dog on a leash when walking in unknown territories.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas that has no color, no taste, and no odor, completely undetectable to our senses. It is produced by incomplete combustion of fuels. In our homes common sources of carbon monoxide are our furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, gas stoves, fireplaces (wood and gas). Anything that burns a fuel can create carbon monoxide. This gas is just as dangerous to people as it is to dogs, but our pups usually spend more time indoors during the winter months exposing them to the gas for longer.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The best way to prevent an issue developing from carbon monoxide exposure is to eliminate possible problems. Make sure all of your fuel burning appliances are vented properly. It is recommended to have your furnaces and other fuel burning appliances serviced yearly to check for leaks. Installing CO detectors is highly recommended to alert you of elevated levels.

Winter can really be the most wonderful time of the year with its white carpet of snow, but along with all that beauty comes some surprising winter dangers for your dog. Keeping your dog safe this winter season is just a small amount of forethought and prevention which will give you peace-of-mind. Now, you and your dog can enjoy all that winter offers safely!

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