We have certainly seen a number of extremely cold weather days this winter, and many people ask us about how best to keep pets safe during these times.
Just like us, our pets are susceptible to cold and the effects of wind. While some breeds of dogs, such as huskies and pyrenes, are more suited to colder temperatures, shorter-haired breeds, older dogs and young puppies can be affected more quickly by the cold.
Here are 7 tips to keep your pet safe this winter:
- Always supervise your pet when outside. Watch for signs they are uncomfortable such as raising paws off the ground.
- You can still take your dog for a walk, but perhaps shorten your walk time or shorten your route so you are not too far from home should your pet become uncomfortable. You can still cover a lot of ground going in circles!
- Always have your pet on a leash when outside of your yard. Besides being the law in Regina, having your dog leashed will avoid your dog from becoming separated from you in blowing snow or hidden from view behind snowbanks. Dogs can also lose their scent in snow and have difficulty finding you or their way home on their own.
- Frostbite is a serious hazard for your dog. Signs of frostbite include swollen or hardened feet, ears, tail tips or lips. Fur over frost-bitten areas may turn white, and the skin underneath may appear red, black or blue. If you observe any of these conditions, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Avoid areas that have been treated with salt or ice-melter as this can stick to a dog’s footpads. Be sure to rinse your pet’s paws when you get home to prevent irritation or licking the chemicals from their paws.
- Groom your dog regularly – a properly maintained coat will maximize the natural insulation capabilities of their fur. Be sure to trim excess hair around toes and foot pads to ease snow removal and cleaning.
- Always keep your cat indoors during the winter. Felines can become lost, injured or be killed by chemicals, the cold or other animals.
Don’t forget hypothermia!
Frostbite is not the only cold-related injury that is a threat to your pet. Hypothermia occurs when a pet cannot maintain their core body temperature at normal levels. Blood flows to the important organs in the chest and abdomen and results in decreased circulation to the legs, tail, and head. Dogs and cats may stumble and shiver in mild cases. As hypothermia becomes severe, animals may have grey or white gums, appear very stiff, and eventually become comatose. Hypothermia can be fatal without emergency medical help.
Should you have any concerns about your pet and taking them outside, always consult your family veterinarian before heading outside.