Keep your pets safe during cold weather

(Marley, a resident of the Ottawa Humane Society is looking for his forever home. Photo: Ottawa Humane Society)

The temperature is plummeting and the cold weather can pose serious risks to pets. We may admire our pets’ plush coats, but as beautiful as fur is, it’s not a perfect insulator, especially when it’s very cold. If an animal’s coat gets wet, the fur loses much of its insulating ability. And don’t put your pet outside in their cold weather coat unsupervised – they could try to remove it, getting tangled, and the chance of suffocation greatly increases.

With the public health crisis, it is likely that many people are making plans to spend more time outdoors during the winter. The Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) urges pet owners to take precautions to protect their pets from freezing temperatures.

Keep your pet and other animals safe by following these tips:

  • Cats should live indoors year-round and never be allowed to roam in the cold.
  • Limit the time your dog spends outside.
  • Take your dog for shorter, more frequent walks. Consider a sweater or coat for your dog.
  • Be sure to wipe your dog’s paws after returning from a walk to remove salt, sand and other chemicals designed to melt ice and snow.
  • Dogs that live outside are required by law to have an insulated doghouse built from weather-proof material, facing away from prevailing winds. The shelter must be elevated from the ground with a door flap and bedding.
  • Keep an eye on outdoor water bowls. Make sure your pet’s water hasn’t frozen over. Don’t leave your pet in a cold car for a long period of time.
  • Be mindful of animals that may have crawled under your car to keep warm. Bang on the hood a couple times to scare away cats and wildlife.

If you are introducing your pet to boots, start with some baby booties and if the pet adapts, try sporting the more rigid winter boots.

Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet.


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