Cold Weather Pet Care

Don’t leave your pet alone in a vehicle
  • The temperature inside a vehicle can drop dangerously low in a matter of minutes.
  • A vehicle can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • If the car engine is left on, the carbon monoxide will endanger your pet’s life. Under the Animal Protection Act you have a legal duty to care for your animal and if you put your animal at risk, you could face prosecution. You would also have to live with the fact that your thoughtless action resulted in terrible suffering for your pet.
  • If you see a pet in a car on a cold day please call the Regina Humane Society Animal Protection Officers at (306) 777-7700.
Cats and the cold
  • Keep your cat inside.
  • Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or stolen, injured or killed.
  • Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.
  • THINK AND THUD! Cats may crawl up under your car seeking shelter and warmth near the engine. They may get caught in the fan and seriously injured when the engine starts. Open the hood of your car, honk your horn a few times, or slap the hood noisily with your hand before starting the engine on cold days to startle any animal sleeping there.
Dogs and the cold
  • Be extra careful when walking or playing with your dog near frozen lakes, creeks or ponds. Your dog could slip or jump in and get seriously injured.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
  • Frostbite is a big winter hazard for dogs. To prevent frostbite on your dog’s ears, tail and feet, don’t leave your dog outdoors too long.
  • Chemicals used to melt snow on sidewalks can irritate or burn the pads of pets’ feet. Wipe them with a damp cloth before your pet licks them and burns its mouth. Also remember to remove the ice between their paw pads when your dog comes back from their walk.
  • A bowl of frozen water can’t help a thirsty dog. Check outdoor water bowls often when it’s below freezing, and break the ice or refill with water as necessary. Snow is NOT an adequate substitute.
  • If your leave your winter tolerant dog outside, you must provide adequate shelter where they can escape the cold and wind at all times of the day. Many people still do not realize that adequate shelter is a requirement within the Animal Protection Act. If you have a winter tolerant breed and must keep the dog outdoors, an outdoor dog needs a dry, insulated, elevated dog house with clean, dry bedding and a flap over the opening to keep drafts out. Straw is an excellent bedding material. Blankets and carpet are not suitable.
  • If your dog is outdoors a lot in the winter he/she will need more calories to produce body heat, so increase the amount you feed them by 20 – 30 percent.
  • Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take them outdoors only to relieve themselves.
Pet grooming in winter
  • Groom your dog regularly. Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated.
  • Short or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
  • Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. If you do the trimming, take care not to cut the pads or other delicate areas of the foot.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.
  • When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry them before taking them outside.
Other major dangers
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. The most likely source of antifreeze is spilled or leaking from your car in your garage or on your driveway. Even the smallest puddle must be flushed with water and cleaned immediately. Antifreeze should be stored or disposed of in sealed containers well out of reach of children and animals. It takes less than a teaspoonful to kill a cat. Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include staggering, lethargy and obvious signs that the animal is in pain. Pets with suspected antifreeze poisoning should be rushed to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY as it runs its course very quickly. Jaundicing in the animal is a sure sign death is not far away. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Be careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your cat or dog. Make sure fireplaces have screen, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
  • Like people, dogs seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
  • Don’t use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.