Winter Dangers for Your Dog

By Ron Ayalon

Swedish Elkhound :: Swedish Elkhound (Jämthund) Sitting in the Snow

Winter can be a fun time of year, for both you and your furry friend. There are the holidays: Christmas, Hanukah, New Year's Eve, the parties, snow ball fights, skiing, sledding, and other winter sports. While you are probably well aware of the hazards to yourself like slipping on the ice or getting into a car accident, winter brings a whole host of dangers for your buddy Lily that you may not have considered.

Take Lily out and have fun with her, but keep in mind some of the dangers that are lurking this time of year. Be a little cautious and keep an eye on her and both you and Lily should have a fun winter and holiday season together.

Cold Temperatures

This may seem obvious, but it gets very cold in the winter. For you, that means bundling up in a coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and boots. But, you may not have thought to put anything on Lily. Because they wear permanent fur coats, it is easy to overlook the fact that dogs can get hypothermia too. They are also vulnerable to frost bite.

When the temperatures dip very low, limit the lengths of your walks with Lily and consider getting her a coat and even some booties for her feet. Most likely, she will tell you when enough is enough. Watch for signs that she is ready to go back in: shivering, putting her tail between her legs, sitting and refusing to go forward, or lifting her paws off of the ground.


Lily could potentially eat something that will make her ill any time of year, but there are some poisons you are more likely to see in the winter. Antifreeze is hugely attractive to Lily. It is made from ethylene glycol, which smells and tastes sweet. If it is within her reach, she will eat it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic, so keep it well out of reach and if you spill any outside, clean it up immediately. To avoid it altogether, you can use propylene glycol, which is safer and a little more expensive.

Salt makes the sidewalks and roads safer for you, but it can harm Lily. Avoid walking her on salted areas or if you do, wipe her feet as soon as you come in. The salt can get trapped between her paw pads and to remove them, she will naturally use her mouth. Ingesting this and other types of ice melting agents can be very harmful.

Certain plants that are around during the winter holidays can be irritating or toxic to Lily. Keep poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and any type of lily well out of her reach. Foods that are safe for you can also be toxic. Watch out for chocolate, macadamia nuts, dough with yeast in it, and coffee. You may also feel compelled to give Lily special treats over the holidays, but stay away from fatty foods. Rendered fat is worse for dogs than it is for humans and can cause sickness. Treat her with plain chicken or raw carrots.


House fires are more likely in winter than any other time of year. There are candles, space heaters, and special lighting, all of which can go horribly wrong. Never leave candles lit when you are not in the room and put them up high where Lily's wagging tail can't knock them over. Don't let her have access to the Christmas tree and keep it well watered. A dry tree is a major fire hazard. Be sure space heaters are turned off when you leave the house.

If you consider some of the things that can hurt little Lily in the winter, they are easy to avoid. Take precautions and enjoy the season together.

Ron Ayalon
Article by Ron Ayalon
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