Not only is the icy weather a danger to human walkers in the form of slipping, falling and potential broken bones, but the grit that is spread on the roads is a very real danger to your pets.
Rock salt is a mixture of salt and grit used to de-ice roads and paths during cold snaps. Anti-freeze is used by drivers as well as gardeners in water features.
Both rock salt and anti-freeze can be deadly to animals if ingested, causing muscle tremors, dehydration, liver and kidney failure and, if not dealt with, death. Vigilance is the key and there are a few simple things you can do to ensure that your pet stays healthy during winter months.
The most common way for rock salt to be ingested is through your pet grooming itself by licking their paws and in some cases licking the bottom of your shoes or wellies, so keep footwear away from your pets.
Fur and paws can be cleaned in a little warm water and if your pet is long haired a mild pet shampoo on the fur, and a soft brush with a rinse. Rock salt can also cause burns to the paws of your pet, which is why gentle washing can help.
Check under your car for any sleeping pets before using anti-freeze as this can smell sweet to them and they might be tempted to lick it and then become unwell.
If you or your neighbours have a garden water feature that you keep running by adding anti-freeze please make it difficult for pets to get to the water. Or let nature take its course and turn off the water feature until the spring and warmer weather.
Do not let your pet drink from pools of water near paths and roads as pooling may have occurred where rock salt or anti-freeze may have been in close proximity.
Early signs of a problem include excessive salivation after grooming and excessive drinking. Strange or unusual noises and lethargy in your pet might mean they are in pain.
You need to get your pet to a vet as soon as possible; the only way to confirm ingestion has occurred is by carrying out a blood test which will show abnormal levels of sodium (salt) concentration. NEVER attempt to induce vomiting as this should only be done by a vet.
Enjoy your winter walks, but take care not only of your pet, but also yourselves.