Pets need warmth during extreme cold

The local SPCA is advising you to watch out for your animals during this week's cold snap. This Shih Tzu, pictured on Dec. 5, 2015, is not bred for the cold like other dogs and can be susceptible to frostbite. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

Randi Belec

SD&G – With Cornwall and SD&G looking at some extreme weather conditions this week, a low of minus 24 being our coldest day on Thursday, thoughts turn to man’s best friend. During these harsh cold days, pets and animals should be well maintained and cared for. While some dogs are simply built for the extreme weather, such as huskies or St. Bernards, other dogs like Chihuahuas are not.

There are very real dangers for any pets or animals during the winter months, not just the cold temperatures. These dangers are things like salt or antifreeze, which can seriously hurt any animal. Salt that is used on the roads and sidewalks can seriously burn your pet’s paws. There are many options available to help, such as Vaseline, pet safe creams or properly fitted boots. Antifreeze is a very serious threat to all to animals. They are drawn to the sweet smell and taste, but it is life threatening. Be sure to check that your vehicle is not leaking any fluids, to clean up any spillage and store it in a safe place away from pets or neighbourhood animals.

Some pets enjoy playing outside during the cold. But leaving them outside for too long is inadvisable. Frostbite is just as real for pets as it is for humans. In the circumstances that a pet must be left outside during the day, they should be provided with an adequate shelter and bed, unfrozen fresh water and food in a plastic dish. Pet owners are advised to watch their pet’s behavior to see what they are comfortable with outside, and to take cues from shivering, whining and how long it takes before wanting to come back inside.

OSPCA officer Scott Sylvia tells Cornwall Newswatch their highest volume of calls is “during the winter and summer months, when the temperatures have the most effect. The chief concern is exposure due to not having appropriate shelter.”

There are many provincial laws in place regarding pet shelter standards. Requirements for a pet shelter are that they must be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down completely stretched out. The shelter must be off the ground and properly insulated with Styrofoam or dry straw, with an entrance turned away from the wind, with an easy access entrance. Pet owners who do not provide the proper shelter for their pets could face charges for permitting distress or failing to provide care.

Sylvia also urges anyone with a vehicle to “check under the car, cats or other animals will crawl underneath to keep warm.”

Should you ever have concern about pets in your neighborhood, or strays during the cold winter months the OSPCA has an around-the-clock emergency call center. The number is 310-7722. For more information you can also check out the local SPCA website.

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