During winter it's best to not leave your pets outside because it can be freezing, but something you have to be careful of when they’re indoors because of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning increase this time of year as people have their homes buttoned down and sealed up for heat conservation. As much as we hear about carbon monoxide in the news, we rarely hear how many pets die. Smaller and more vulnerable, they are more likely to be overcome by these invisible fumes.
Pets are particularly vulnerable during cold weather when they may be confined to a garage and exposed to car fumes. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to carbon monoxide fumes than humans and any exposure to exhaust fumes is serious and sometimes fatal. Carbon monoxide poisoning, even in very low doses, is cumulative and can lead to death.
Because your pet likely spends more time at home than you do, if there is a problem in your house he or she may be the first to exhibit symptoms. The warning signs of carbon monoxide in pets include drowsiness, lethargy, weakness and/or incoordination, bright red color to skin or gums, dyspnea and coma and occasionally chronic exposure may cause intolerance, changes in gait and disturbances of normal reflexes.
If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning in your pet, please see your veterinarian and remember this is a warning sign that you and your family are at risk. Pets and small children are always the first affected.
A good precaution is to install carbon monoxide detectors. They are an inexpensive way to protect you, your family and your pets. Don't let your pet be the warning sign that you have carbon monoxide in your home.
The Nebraska Humane Society, located at 8929 Fort Street in Omaha, is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can always look up animals and find information at nehumanesociety.org.