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The hidden dangers of winter for pets

Simba licks moisture rom the window while Angel looks out
Simba licks moisture rom the window while Angel looks out
Author's cats and photo

Dr. Jeff Smith, president of the CVMA,  (California Veterinarian Medical Association) said during an interview, "Cars, antifreeze, heaters and wood stoves can be death traps for animals if pet owners are not careful."

Animals, just like humans, suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, and will go to any extreme to escape the sub-zero chill factors and the cutting winds that generate them. One of things that cats and kittens do to escape the cold is to climb up under the hoods of cars and trucks that were just parked. Comforted by the warmth emanating from the engine they fall asleep. Far too many of them never wake up again because some human being, unaware of their place of slumber, start up their vehicles engine and they get sucked into the fan and turned into confetti. Still others will curl up under a vehicle near the hot exhaust system and fall into a deep sleep. Many of them never wake up again because someone, unaware of their presence, drives over them. These are accidents but they are accidents that could have been avoided if the person took a moment to check under their vehicle and to bang loudly on the hood before starting their vehicle and driving off. However, what of those humans that uses remote car starters because they don't want to get into a cold car? How are they to know that their beloved, furry companion has fallen asleep under the hood of their vehicles? These accidents wouldn't happen if people brought their companions in out of the cold in the first place.

During the long, cold winter months when everything is frozen over, animals desperately seek out liquids to drink. The antifreeze that we use to protect the cooling systems of our vehicles from freezing attracts them like a magnet attracts iron filings. It's not only liquid; it's a sweet tasting liquid. Cats and dogs lap it up, quenching their thirst, unaware that they are drinking poison. People add antifreeze to their vehicle's cooling systems all the time. More often than not, they spill some on the frozen ground in the process. It puddles there, unable to soak into the frozen soil, just waiting for someone's beloved pet to drink it and die. People need to become aware of this danger and take steps to protect the defenseless animals left out in the cold to fend for them selves.

Many country folk use wood stoves in their garages and workshops to heat them during the winter months. During the hot weather, cats often curl up on them because the metal is cool. When those stoves are fired up for the first time, many cats are seriously burned because they aren't aware that their favorite spot to snooze has become a death trap for them.

The sad thing is that people who truly love their companion animals subject them to these dangers out of ignorance. People need to be educated in how to be a responsible pet owner.


  • Carol Roach, Montreal Mental Health Examiner 5 years ago

    Excellent Jerry, Good to see you here

  • Charlene Collins - Atlanta Family Health Examiner 5 years ago

    Great article Jerry! I hope all pet owners read this. I'm subscribing to you Jerry.

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