Cold weather grips Ontario – Safety tips you need to know

by | Podcast |

cold weather, pets, cold, cold weather warning
photo credit: capt_tain Tom DSC_3756 via photopin (license)

With extreme cold weather currently gripping much of the province, the Ontario SPCA wants to remind pet owners that the cold weather can be harmful to your pets. Exposure to harsh conditions can cause serious illness or death to animals.

Here are tips to help you see when your dog is too cold, signs of hypothermia, requirements for dogs outside, and when an animal is in distress.

Signs that can indicate your dog is too cold

  • Shaking or shivering
  • Hunched posture with a tucked tail
  • Whining or barking
  • Change in behaviour, like seeming anxious or uncomfortable
  • Reluctance to keep walking or tries to turn around
  • Seeks places for shelter
  • Lifts paw off the ground

Signs of hypothermia

If you suspect your dog is displaying signs of hypothermia, wrap your dog in a blanket or coat, seek a warm shelter, and contact your vet immediately. Signs to watch for include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Lack of mental alertness
  • Fixed and dilated pupils
  • Stupor-like state
  • Loss of consciousness

Though it’s important to pay attention to these things, you shouldn’t wait to see the first signs of discomfort to call your walk quits. If you think it’s too cold for you, then it’s too cold for your dog.

While maintaining your dog’s exercise requirements during the winter is important, when conditions are especially cold, it’s a good idea to cut your walk short and supplement your pet’s exercise with some indoor activities for dogs.

Dogs outside

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.

Consider slipping your short-coated dog or puppy into a comfortable dog sweater or coat as an extra layer of warmth. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. As well, when bathing your dog during winter months, ensure he is completely dry before taking him outside.

Take pet precautions

Use a damp towel to wipe your pet’s paws and underside after being outside. 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 injury if ingested. Also, remove ice balls by placing your pet’s feet in warm (not hot) water before drying them off with a towel. Consider using “booties” to protect your pet’s paws.

Don’t let your dog off leash on ice or snow, especially during a snowstorm, as dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost.

Ensure your pet always has a warm place to sleep away from drafts and off the floor. A thick cozy dog or cat bed with a blanket or pillow is great.

Stay warm out there!

Totally rock

All of your wonderful staff & volunteers totally rock. The amazing compassion and work you provide on a daily basis is incredible.

Laura