Protect your pet this winter

John Brannen
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Cold weather can be fatal for your cat or dog

The recent death of a dog due to exposure is putting to task the claim that the animal is man’s best friend.

Fraser Munro takes his dogs, a one-year-old Windy, a poodle-terrier mix, left, and six-year-old Winston, a shih tzu-terrier mix, for a quick walk in the snow yesterday. He, like many in the province was shocked to hear that a dog had apparently frozen to death in North Preston. 

The SPCA issued a statement this week saying the group received a call on Dec. 23 advising them that a dog had apparently frozen to death in North Preston.

It’s something that has left dog owner Fraser Munro disturbed.

“You’ve got to keep a good eye on your pets,” said Munro, the owner of one-year-old Windy, a poodle-terrier mix and six-year-old Winston, a shih tzu-terrier mix.

For small dogs like his, Munro said winter just isn’t their kind of season.

“They don’t go out often but when they do, they go out together.”

The Pictou County SPCA is advising pet owners to be aware of the cold, winter conditions and their effects on animals.

“Even the salt can do damage to their paws so you have to be careful,” said Agnes Leavitt, Pictou SPCA branch manager. “For really cold weather don’t have your dog out for more than ten minutes.”

She even recommends rinsing dogs paw pads to get the salt off. Prolonged contact can lead to chemical burns on dog paws.

It takes a combination of common sense and looking at the breed of your dog. Some, of course, are more built and even thrive in winter conditions.

“Certain breeds can handle the cold,” said Leavitt. “Cold dog breeds, the husky, malamute and Newfoundland dog for example, have thicker coats.”

However, smaller breeds with little insulations aren’t built for Canadian winters.

For those who keep their animals outside with a doghouse, a small structure is little protection when the temperature drops to low.

“It’s a fact that if a dog house isn’t insulated and doesn’t have a heated water bowl, it’s unsafe,” said Leavitt.

Of course, dogs and their owners need exercise. Leavitt recommends keeping dogs away from the roads and instead trying out some basic exercises in their yards.

“Dog sweaters and coats help because they start losing heat and it protects their extremities,” she noted. “They’re pretty inexpensive.”

She recalled that a few years ago there was an incident in Pictou where a dog was left outside and froze to death. It’s an upsetting thought for Leavitt.

“They suffer severely when it happens. A frozen dog is 100 per cent preventable.”

It’s less certain for cats, especially outdoor and stray cats that occasionally wander too far.

“A lot of stray cats have no resources,” said Leaveitt. “The bottom line for any animal is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.”

Sgt. Kevin Dunlevy of Pictou County RCMP noted that while there aren’t a ton of calls about dogs and cats, the wintertime can still be dangerous for pets.

“People are passionate about this stuff,” said Dunlevy. “Some people are very cognizant of this and some people don’t look at pets like this.”

He noted that when there’s an apparent danger to an animal, the police have the right under the criminal code to remove the animal. This may be followed up with fines or forms of probation.

“I’m no expert, but I have dogs too,” said Dunlevy. “You’ve got to take care of your pets, regardless of the season.”

If you see an animal in need you can call the SPCA during their normal business hours, Mon.-Fri. between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or the police after hours.

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn 

Organizations: Pictou County SPCA

Geographic location: North Preston, Newfoundland, Pictou

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Recent comments

  • chief wiggam
    January 03, 2014 - 17:21

    those people are idiots. who leaves a pibull outside??