Ontario SPCA asks pet owners to take precautions during extreme cold weather

by | Media Releases |

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Stouffville, ON (December 28, 2017) – As extreme cold weather grips the province, the Ontario SPCA is currently receiving a high volume of calls relating to concerns about animals left outside and wants to remind pet owners that the cold weather can be harmful to your pets.

Take pet precautions

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. Dog sweaters or coats are also an option for short-coated dogs or puppies that require an extra layer of warmth.

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. Use a damp towel to wipe your pet’s paws and underside after being outside.

Protect outdoor dogs

Canada’s laws require that animals receive adequate shelter and care. While the Ontario SPCA strongly recommends bringing your dog indoors, outdoor dogs must be provided adequate shelter and a constant supply of fresh water.

The Standards of Care under the Ontario SPCA Act requires that dogs that primarily live outdoors be provided with a structurally sound enclosure for their use at all times. The enclosure must be weatherproofed and insulated and size and design must be adequate and appropriate for the dog.

If your dog is tied outside, ensure the chain or rope moves freely and is not frozen into the ground or ice. The animal must be able to access its food, water and shelter.

Check your pet’s water and food frequently to ensure it’s not frozen and use a tip-resistant plastic or ceramic bowl, rather than metal, to prevent your dog’s tongue sticking to the cold metal surface. There are also heated and/or insulated bowls available that prevent water from freezing.

Avoid car hazards

Never leave your cat or dog alone in a car during cold weather. Cars hold in the cold, which could cause your dog to freeze to death.

Also, be aware of 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. This will warn away any cats who may be hiding in your vehicle.

Another danger for pets this time of year is ethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze and brake fluids and is deadly to all animals. It tastes sweet, so animals may ingest it, and only a very small amount can be fatal. Be alert for antifreeze spills when out on walks.

“If it’s too cold for you to go outside, it’s too cold for your pet. Cold weather affects animals, just like it affects people,” says Connie Mallory, Chief Inspector, Ontario SPCA. “There can be legal consequences if you fail to provide the necessary care for your animals.”

To report an animal in distress, call the Ontario SPCA’s province-wide dispatch centre at 310-SPCA (7722).

Additional Information:

Cold weather safety tips

How to tell if your dog is too cold

How to build the Ideal Doghouse


Melissa Kosowan
Ontario SPCA

Ontario SPCA and Humane Society:

Protecting animals since 1873, the Ontario SPCA is Ontario’s animal welfare organization. A registered charity, the Society is comprised of close to 50 Communities.

Since 1919, when Ontario’s first animal welfare legislation was proclaimed, the Ontario SPSPCA, with the help of its Communities, has been entrusted to maintain and enforce animal welfare legislation. The Act provides Ontario SPCA agents and inspectors with police powers to do so.

The Ontario SPCA provides leadership in animal welfare innovations, including introducing high-volume spay/neuter services to Ontario and opening the Provincial Education & Animal Centre.

For every animal you save

For every animal you save, every animal who feels loved in their last moments, and for everything else you do; thank you and God Bless.