As the weather becomes colder across the province, the BC SPCA is reminding pet guardians not to forget their furry family members during the chilliest months of the year.
For instance, when walking your dog, guardians might want to watch for the salt or sand used to make driving and walking safer for humans.
“When your dog is walking, those materials could get between his paw pads or toes, and you don’t want him to lick or ingest any of that,” notes BC SPCA manager of animal welfare Kim Monteith.
“Don’t forget to both dry your pet’s paw pads after being outside, as well as clean between his toes and pads,” she adds.
It’s also important to walk slowly and carefully when conditions are icy or slippery, because – like humans – your canine companion can slip and injure themselves.
If temperatures are extremely cold, pet guardians may want to think about getting their dog a winter jacket or covering, or even dog shoes and/or booties to wear to help protect his paws, says Monteith. You can also consider classes or fun activities inside if it’s too cold to be out and about.
“They may have fur coats but some aren’t very thick – dogs get cold and can suffer from exposure to the cold just like us,” Monteith says.
Pet care tips for fall/winter:
- 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 (or wild animals) are not hiding inside, as some equipment can exert intense pressure when being expanded or dismantled;
- ‘Think and Thump‘ before you drive off in your car! Cats and/or wild animals may be using your vehicle for shelter from the cold. Learn more about how this quick act could save an animal’s life;
- 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. Learn more about what to do if you believe your pet has ingested antifreeze with ethylene glycol in it;
- 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.
“When the temperature drops outside, we need to take extra care with our pets,” says Monteith. “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.”
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.