The Blue Cross near hitchin warns of the risk to pets in freezing conditions
By HitchinPeople | Wednesday, February 08, 2012, 10:25
As temperatures dip below freezing, animal charity The Blue Cross near Hitchin is warning pet owners to protect their animals from gritter salt and antifreeze.
Cats seem to like the taste of antifreeze but it is highly toxic to them.
The warning comes after several cats died from salt toxicity during the last icy snap. In the last few days a cat also died from suspected antifreeze poisoning.
Mark Bossley, Blue Cross chief vet said: "If it is icy outside and salt is being used to grit your local streets it is wise to keep your cat indoors. Salt is poisonous to cats and it can easily get on their paws or fur and be swallowed when they groom themselves. Watch out for antifreeze too, cats seem to like the taste but it is highly toxic to them. Be vigilant, if your cat appears to be ill always contact your vet as quickly as possible."
Signs of poisoning include lethargy, vomiting, appetite loss and drinking excessively. In severe cases cats will collapse, have seizures and find difficulty walking. In large amounts, salt can cause severe dehydration, brain damage and even death.
The Blue Cross also offers more advice to help protect pets from the hazards that can arise during the cold weather.
If left outside cats may seek warmth in dangerous car engines, or get trapped somewhere without access to food and water. Make sure their catflap doesn't become frozen over and stuck so they can't get back in. It is a good idea to keep them inside when it gets really cold, make sure they have an litter tray to use indoors.
Make sure pets are not left outdoors for too long, just like us they can develop hypothermia if they remain in the cold for long periods. Small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs are particularly vulnerable and you may want to bring them inside if possible, or make sure they have extra bedding to keep them warm.
Salt and grit can also be harmful to dogs and irritate their paws. After walks, wash their feet and make sure there is nothing stuck between their pads. Keep fur between pads trimmed to prevent ice-balls forming which can also be painful to them.
Be very careful if it is icy outdoors and keep your dog on the lead if you may pass frozen water. Call for help but don't go after your dog if they do run onto ice, it can be extremely dangerous.
Download a free 'Surviving winter' advice leaflet and see more pet care advice at.
The Blue Cross animal rehoming centre in Kimpton, near Hitchin, finds loving homes for hundreds of dogs and cats each year, funded entirely by public donations. To find out more or to make a donation, visit the website or contact the centre on 0300 777 1490.