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WINTER PET SAFETY TIPS: Keeping your furry friends safe inside and outside

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The holiday season is upon us and the first official day of winter is next week.

With that in mind, we met with veterinarian, Dr. Colleen Nemmers, at Companion Animal Clinic & Pet Resort in Cedar Falls to get safety tips for your four-legged friends.

Between holiday celebrations and arctic temperatures, pet owners have a lot to think about this time of year.


If your cat likes to spend time indoors and outdoors, you might want to consider keeping them inside during the winter months. Dr. Nemmers said cats can get frostbite on the tips of their ears.

The same goes for dogs.

Unless they're exercising, dogs should not spend more than 10 minutes outside. If you're cold and you need a jacket, your pet might need one too, especially if it's below 20 degrees outside.

When it comes to salting your sidewalks and driveways, she recommends looking for a pet-friendly brand.

But you should always check your dog's paws before bringing them inside. Salt can be irritating.

"In the winter, salts. You know, or they'll get little snowballs in [their paws] and then they'll start picking their feet up and it hurts," Dr. Nemmers said. "Or, you'll see a dog outside and they'll start shifting, that means 'My feet hurt. It's just way too cold,' and so that's the kind of dog that will qualify for some boots."

If you have anti-freeze in your garage, Dr. Nemmers cautions you to keep it away from your pets. It's sweet, so animals are attracted to it, but she said it's extremely toxic and can lead to kidney failure.

Mosquitoes are dead this time of year, so heart worm isn't much of an issue. However, dogs and cats can get intestinal worms all year around, so you should give them worm treatment even in the winter months.


During the holiday season, many people like to decorate their homes with poinsettias. However, the plant is toxic to cats and dogs.

Dr. Nemmers said animals also like to play with decorations, such as ornaments or tinsel, for example. They may accidentally swallow an object, which can lead to surgery. If you have a curious furry friend, she said you can put up a decorative fence around your Christmas tree.

Many of us are enjoying decadent treats, but Dr. Nemmers said sweets can be deadly to your pet.

"Everyone makes chocolates, truffles, you're making chocolate chip cookies, there's a whole bag out or a thing of baking cocoa, and they get into it, and that's super toxic, so they usually need to be hospitalized when that happens, and they can even die from it if they have too much of it," she explained.

Turkey and ham bones are also dangerous because they're brittle and can splinter, creating a choking hazard.

She also said you should never let your pet sip on any alcohol, including beer, wine or mixed drinks. Because their bodies have trouble metabolizing it, a small amount of alcohol can put small dogs into a coma.

If you plan on having family and friends over for a holiday celebration, you might see a different side of your four-legged friend. Big groups may cause anxiety. Dr. Nemmers recommends introducing new people one by one to your pet, or putting them in a separate room.


Companion Animal Clinic & Pet Resort recently opened their new location in Cedar Falls. They officially open on Monday. For more information, you can visit their website:

Olivia Schmitt

Weekend Anchor

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