As the thermometer continues to dip, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society reminds pet guardians to take extra precautions to keep animals safe during cold weather.
When the temperature drops below freezing, pets should not be left outside for extended periods. Cats, short-coated dogs and puppies are particularly vulnerable in cold temperatures. Keep cats indoors and protect your dogs from frostbite or hypothermia by taking them outside for short periods during cold weather. Some dogs, especially short-coated breeds, puppies and elderly dogs, may benefit from a dog sweater or coat as an extra layer of warmth.
The Ontario SPCA shares these five tips to help keep your pet safe:
- Supervise outdoor time – If your dog gets free run of the backyard, stand at the door until he comes back inside to ensure you don’t lose track of time or get sidetracked and forget to let him back in. Keeping an eye on him also allows you to watch for early signs that your dog is cold, such as holding up his paws or shivering.
- Keep your walks shorter during extreme weather – In addition to limiting time outside, choose a walking route that loops past your house in case you or your furry friend get cold and need to come in early. Choose a route that offers some protection from the wind.
- Leave them at home – Animals should never be left alone in a vehicle during cold weather. Cars cool down quickly and don’t hold in body heat, which can lead to animals suffering from cold stress, hypothermia or frostbite. Leave your pet at home where they are warm and safe when you’re running errands.
- Watch for cats seeking warmth under vehicle hoods – When the engine is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. Make a point of knocking on the hood or sounding the horn before starting the engine.
- Keep those paws clean – After taking your dog for a walk, use a damp towel to wipe your pet’s paws and underside. Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice on roads and sidewalks can irritate and burn your pet’s sensitive paws and can cause illness if ingested.
“Don’t forget about your furry friends when it’s cold out,” says Jennifer Bluhm, Acting Chief, Animal Protection, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. “In cold winter conditions, it’s important to consider every part of your pet’s daily routine to ensure they are comfortable and safe at all times.”
To report an animal in distress, call the provincial government’s animal cruelty hotline at 1-833-926-4625.
For more winter pet safety tips, visit ontariospca.ca