Common Winter Pet Emergencies in Pewaukee, WI

Wintertime can be just as dangerous for pets as it is for humans. To protect your pet, it is important to know the dangers and risks. From the cold weather to situational threats, the winter season brings many and varied threats.

Find out about the common pet emergencies that happen during wintertime by reading our Pewaukee, WI, animal hospital‘s article below.

winter pet emergencies pewaukee, wiFrostbite & Hypothermia

Many people think that warm fur coats protect pets from the cold weather. However, this is only partially true. For many reasons, it is important to consider that most pets do not have a lot of fur on their feet.


Depending on the type of pet, different pets are vulnerable to frostbite at different temperatures. If you must take your pet out in cold temperatures, try to keep them warm. You can do this with blankets, booties, sweaters, and more.

  • Dogs can become frostbitten in temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • Cats can suffer from frostbite in temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • Ferrets and other rodent-like pets can also suffer from frostbite at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Pets with longer or thicker fur will be better insulated. However, their paws are still vulnerable. It is important to protect your pet from frostbite. While it is not deadly if treated it can lead to Hypothermia, which is deadly.


Hypothermia is when an animal’s body temperature drops drastically. This is usually caused in one way or another by cold weather. Hypothermia slows the heart rate and breathing which can cause other health problems as well.

Hypothermia can be caused by frostbite in pets whose paws are not protected. Hypothermia can also cause frostbite. Dogs, cats, and other mammalian pets are at risk for hypothermia if exposed to temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less.


The treatment for both hypothermia and frostbite begins with warmth. You need to immediately try to warm up your pet.

  • Build a fire in the fire place or turn up the heat in your house.
  • Wrap your pet in blankets and hold them.
  • If they are wet, get them dry as quickly as you can.

If their temperature does not improve, they need to be taken to the nearest emergency vet for assistance.

Antifreeze Poisoning

One of the environmental dangers of the winter is antifreeze poisoning. With the weather so cold, antifreeze is necessary for cars. If your car is leaking antifreeze, your pets may end up drinking or licking up some.

In addition, you have to be careful if you take your pets places. Other people may have an antifreeze leak or may have spilt some while refilling their car.

Antifreeze symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Fainting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive need to potty
  • Unsteadiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart beat

If you suspect your pet has been exposed to antifreeze it is important to get them to an emergency vet immediately. The earlier treatment for antifreeze poisoning is started, the better the chance that treatment will be successful.

Colds, Flu, Respiratory Infections

Just like humans, pets can catch colds and other respiratory and winter weather illnesses. They cannot usually catch them from humans. Normally they catch them from other pets. To help protect your pet keep an eye out for these symptoms in other animals and try to avoid exposing your pet to illness.

  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever

Your pets may also be more tired and may not want to play or eat. If you suspect that your pet is sick, contact your vet. They can prescribe something to help your pet fight off the infection or virus. At home you can also do the following things to help you pet be more comfortable.

  • Turn on the humidifier
  • Wipe their nose
  • Wipe their eyes
  • Keep them hydrated with lots of water
  • Let them rest
  • Bundle them up to keep them warm

Harmful Foods

One of the things that happens in the wintertime is family celebrations and get-togethers. These are wonderful times to share your pet with everyone. However, be mindful of foods you prepare or that your guests bring.

If you suspect food poisoning from something your pet has eaten, call your vet immediately. They can give you instructions based on what the food is (if you know it),

Foods that are Harmful to Pets

  • Onions, garlic, chives, and others in this family
  • Chocolate and caffeinated drinks (like coffee)
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Dough (any kind)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coconut, coconut water, coconut milk
  • Some Nuts – Macadamia nuts are toxic, most others will only cause an upset stomach
  • Raw or undercooked meats – they can carry salmonella
  • Milk – many cats are lactose intolerant
  • Xylitol
  • Salt – can cause vomiting in large amounts
  • Avocado

Swallowing or Eating Decorations

With the holidays being in the wintertime, there are hundreds of decorations to tempt your pet. Be wary of small decorations that your pet might eat or swallow. Keep them out of reach.

Keep an eye on your pet whenever they are in the vicinity of any electrical cords. Some pets have a penchant for chewing these cords.

One way to distract your pet is to provide them with seasonal toys. This will keep them playing with something safe and not the decorations.

Another way to protect your pets is to avoid any decorations that are edible. If it is made from food, your pets may try to taste it.

Stress or Loss of Appetite

Last, but certainly not least, we have a common pet problem for any season. Stress and a loss of appetite can affect pets even more in the wintertime. With all the holiday celebrations, vacations, and more is it any wonder pets get stressed?

This stress can cause a multitude of problems from too much weight loss to anxiety behaviors.

  • Your pets may eat too much or too little.
  • They may chew on decorations in anxiety.
  • They may act aggressive towards others.
  • They may spend all their time hiding.
  • They may potty where they aren’t supposed to.

Be kind to your pets and understanding. When you can, give them lots of love and cuddles. Try to make sure they get some alone time if they need it.

Reach Out to Our Pewaukee, WI, Animal Hospital Immediately if Your Pet is Having a Winter Pet Emergency

Whatever the season, there are dangers for pets. The dangers of winter range from stress to hypothermia. Just taking the time to acknowledge these problems and to try and prevent them is all we can do. Keep your pets warm and enjoy the holiday season.

Please reach out to our animal hospital in Pewaukee, WI, immediately if your pet is having a winter pet emergency and needs our assistance.

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Since 1977, Pewaukee Veterinary Services has provided progressive veterinary medicine to pets of Pewaukee and the greater Milwaukee area. We put a strong emphasis on preventive medicine and alternative therapies aimed at keeping companion animals healthy and happy. Yet, if your pet is ill, there’s no better place to entrust their care. Our animal hospital in Pewaukee not only has the most advanced veterinary equipment in the area, but also the skilled veterinarians and staff to use it.