Winter Brings Unique Dangers for Our Pets

Dog owners know that winter road salts can be irritating to dogs’ paws. But they should also know that these salts can increase the risk of an animal being electrocuted.

It turns out that such things as road salts, de-icers and antifreeze liquids can make snow and slushy waters much more conductive to electricity.

According to UTGIS — a company that provides contact voltage testing, water leak detection, sign asset management services and GIS mapping – these common winter conditions can be especially dangerous for pets when contact voltage is present on streets and sidewalks.

The company offers these tips for keeping pets safe:

  • Pay attention to electrical infrastructure items companions avoid- light poles, traffic signals, junction boxes, etc.  Avoidance does not automatically imply contact voltage is present on an object- only testing with a voltmeter can do that.
  • Network and/or socialize with others in your neighborhood or along your normal walking route looking for or observing trends.  Often these incidents go unreported to officials because the humans don’t understand what is going on.  But if a group of people observe adverse companion behavior at the same general location- that may warrant further official investigation.
  • Look for melted snow around the base of poles.  Again, not in itself a positive indication contact voltage is present, but raises a warning flag especially if in conjunction with tip #1. Electrical current flowing on the pole causes it to heat up slightly, melting the snow around the base.
  • Encourage your companion to visit non-electrical infrastructure components.
  • Report all suspected contact voltages to 911.  Contact voltages can range anywhere from 1 volt to over 120 volts. For safety, all energized objects must be considered to be at their highest voltage level until competent testing proves otherwise.”

Stray electrical current is not one of the things we commonly worry about when caring for pets. But it can be present and, when combined with winter conditions, it can be particularly dangerous. Following these tips should help mitigate the risks.

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