With temperatures dropping as low as -15C in some parts of the country this week, vets are warning pet owners to take extra caution during the cold spell with salt, grit and antifreeze proving fatal to pets.
Salt, grit and antifreeze used to de-ice outdoor areas is particularly dangerous to pets if it is ingested or trapped in the animal's paw.
In extreme cases it can cause “convulsions and kidney damage”, according to The British Veterinary Association (The BVA).
The BVA is urging pet owners to wipe paws after every outing and take extra care when handling antifreeze.
British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President, Gudrun Ravetz, said: “While pets still need their usual exercise through the winter, owners need to be mindful of the risks posed by the salt and grit used to de-ice outdoor areas, which can irritate paw pads and be toxic if ingested.
“Rock salt, or sodium chloride, ingestion can cause high blood sodium levels with symptoms including excessive thirst, diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy and, in severe cases, convulsions and kidney damage.
Ravetz added, “We would advise owners to wipe their pet’s paws and belly after every outing to remove any ice or salt, and to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes. If you are concerned your pet might have ingested a toxic substance, you should consult your local vet immediately.”
In 2010, during a particularly extreme cold spell, the Mail Online reported how the RSPCA received 248 calls about salt, grit and antifreeze cases involving cats and dogs between January 1 and mid-November.