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Common Cold-Weather Pet Emergencies

The cold weather brings a new set of dangers for pet owners to be aware of. Certain pet emergencies are more common in the winter, and it’s important for pet owners to know how to keep their pets safe and warm. Be sure to keep your pet indoors during freezing temperatures, and take note of these common cold-weather pet emergencies. 

Choking or Blockages from Holiday Decorations

Certain holiday decorations can prove hazardous or even fatal to pets. If you have a pet that likes to chew or play with string, items like holiday lights, garlands, and ornaments might be very tempting for them. Unfortunately, pets can quickly become tangled in the decorations and strangle themselves. These decorations are also often a choking hazard if your pet tries to chew on or ingest them. Holiday lights, candles, and fireplaces can cause burns or electrocution if your pet tries to play with them or knocks them over. Other holiday decorations can cause serious intestinal blockages if your pet eats them. 


Your pet is at an increased risk of accidental poisoning in the winter, as there are more foods, beverages, and chemicals around that can be fatal if swallowed or ingested. Chemicals like antifreeze should be kept far out of reach of your pet. You should also make sure your pet can’t get into holiday foods or alcohol. If you notice any warning signs of accidental poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, frequent panting, loss of interest in food, lethargy, seizures, or loss of consciousness, take your pet to the emergency veterinarian right away.

Prolonged Exposure to Cold

Your pet can’t be outside for long in the cold weather. Even just 30 minutes in temperatures below 20 degrees can cause hypothermia, frostbite, coma, and death. Don’t leave your pet outside alone, in a car unattended, or take him for a long walk in freezing temperatures. If your pet has been exposed to the cold, watch out for signs of hypothermia and frostbite, including pale skin and gums, uncontrollable shivering, lethargy, seizures, and loss of consciousness. 

If you’re concerned about the health or safety of your pet this winter and think he may be experiencing a health emergency, please bring him to your closest emergency veterinarian right away.