Keep an eye on your pets this winter

Your pet's routines are likely to change as the temperature drops, with routine changes comes new dangers.




Winter temperatures which result in an environment change for cats, can be a trigger for toileting inside.

Cats are by nature, very fastidious about their toilet habits however if your cat starts toileting or spraying indoors, it is cause for concern. The occasional one-off accident may happen if a cat is unwell or is suddenly frightened or stressed by a particular event, but if toileting around the home persists, the cause should be investigated, both for the health and welfare of the cat, and also for your own convenience.

Punishment won't work! Any form of punishment is not the answer, scolding, shouting, smacking etc. will only make the cat fearful and stressed, and will quite likely make the problem worse - something has gone wrong in it's environment or with it's health.

If your cat starts squatting, always have your cat examined by a vet as soon as possible. At best the cat requires just some pain relief, but not unusual is the worst scenario of urinary tract blockage by inflammatory debris and/or crystals. The blocked cat rapidly goes into renal failure. This is an emergency requiring urgent veterinary intention. Do not delay!




With pets keeping warm indoors a little more at this time of year, you need to be wary of keeping your rubbish bins locked and inaccessible to your pets.

Exploratory laparotomies are not something vets perform every week, however sadly at this time of year there is an increase. Among the offending objects removed during exploratory laparotomies are corn cob and walnuts.

Please be careful about what your pet has access to and can swallow!



Unfortunately both the smell and taste of anti-freeze is generally appealing to pets. Even in small doses the results can be fatal if ingested.

Many cars have some component of anti-freeze in their radiators and unbeknown to pet owners their animals may stop to lick or drink this sweet tasting liquid from a leak or a puddle of inadequately disposed-of fluid. The harmful ingredient in antifreeze is ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical. Even the smallest amount of this liquid can be fatal to a cat or dog.

Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include a drunken appearance including staggering, lack of co-ordination, and apparent disorientation, vomiting and even seizures.

Take your poisoned animal to the vet as fast as possible. The faster the treatment the better the chances of recovery. 




As the cooler weather of winter arrives and rats and mice take the opportunity to avail themselves of our sheds and heated homes, as veterinarians, we annually see an increase in poisoning of pets by the baits laid to manage the unwanted visitors.

The modern rat poisons are much more toxic to dogs (and rats & mice of course) than the old warfarin-based chemical poisons. They still work as an anti-coagulant (they stop blood from clotting so that the animal dies of internal bleeding) but the modern baits are much more potent. The amount of bait required to poison your dog is small and the amount of antidote required to treat it is much higher.

Cats can be poisoned too if they eat any bait, and second-hand toxicity from eating poisoned vermin is rare but does occur.



  1. Consider using traps instead.  Alternatively, really good pet-proof bait stations are now available from hardware stores.  These can be fixed to your rafters and contain the baits inside so that rats do not remove the entire ball of bait and then drop it where your pet can access it.

  2. Keep the packet of bait in a high, secure cupboard.  Many poisonings result from dogs getting into the packet when it has been left within reach, or has fallen off a shelf.

  3. If you know your dog has eaten rat bait, get to your vet immediately! If it has been recently ingested, drugs can be given to make your dog vomit it up.  Then your vet will decide, based on the likelihood that some of the bait will have been absorbed into the bloodstream, whether a blood test 72 hours later (to confirm normal clotting times), or a 3-4-week course of antidote is the best choice.

    If the bait was ingested too long ago to prevent absorption, or your dog is already bleeding because of the poison, treatment with Vitamin K1 (by injection and then orally) will be started right away and continued for 3-4 weeks.  A blood test 48-72 hours after the last dose confirms that we have treated for long enough.

Severely affected dogs and cats sometimes require life-saving blood transfusion and hospital care.





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