Although many come with their own fur coats, your pets still need your help to keep them safe from winter’s chilly temperatures.
“Cold weather conditions can pose a serious risk to your pet,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “Extra caution should be taken to ensure that your pet stays warm, safe and healthy this winter.”
The BC SPCA is vehemently opposed to keeping dogs permanently outdoors, but it acknowledges that some pet guardians still house their dogs in this manner. In these cases, the dog must have shelter that protects him from cold, wind and dampness that is appropriate to his weight and coat. To accomplish this, the shelter should be elevated, insulated, ventilated and regularly cleaned.
Cold weather safety tips:
Make sure you thoroughly clean the pads of your pet’s paws after they’ve walked on sidewalks or roads to remove any coarse salt that can cause irritation. For your own sidewalk, choose a pet-friendly, non-corrosive de-icing compound readily available through retail outlets;
When winterizing your camping gear, ensure your pets are not hiding inside, as some equipment can exert intense pressure when being expanded or dismantled;
Use pet-safe propylene-based antifreeze instead of ethylene glycol antifreeze, which is toxic to pets and wildlife. A mere tablespoon of ethylene glycol antifreeze can kill a cat or small dog;
“Think and Thump” before starting your car. Cats and wildlife gravitate to warm engines during cold weather. Banging on the hood before getting into your car can avoid a tragic ending for an animal seeking refuge from the cold;
The SPCA strongly urges pet guardians to keep all animals indoors during cold weather, but if you must keep domestic or farm animals outside, ensure they have access to shelter that is off the ground, provides protection from wind, cold and dampness and is properly insulated. Regular checks to ensure drinking water has not frozen over are also a must.
Companion pets are not the only animals at risk in cold weather. People with farm animals must also make sure these animals have adequate cover from the elements and that all water containers are kept ice-free.
“When the temperature drops outside, we need to take extra care with our pets,” says Chortyk. “Ideally, we should keep our pets indoors with us where they are warm and safe and where we can enjoy their companionship throughout the winter.”
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.