Once again, “Old Man Winter” is at it again — giving the prairies a blast of cold weather that seems never ending. I hate being cold. You won’t catch me outside for more than a minute or two when the temperature gauge drops below -25.
So now we have established I am more suited to a tropical beach than a blowing prairie town, what about my fur babies?
People often assume animals with their fur coats are impervious to the extreme cold; after all, wild animals manage. But no pet, regardless of their breed, should be outside in this extreme weather. All animals can suffer the effects of prolonged exposure to extreme cold, ranging from frostbitten ears to hypothermia and death.
Dogs may still need to be walked to relieve themselves. Dogs by nature may well behave like a child in a candy store when they are faced with fresh powder, but do not mistake that for them being able to hold their own when it comes to staying warm. Dogs can suffer from frostbite easily on their tails and ears, so walks should be kept to the bare minimum. Winter gear is available for your dog, so why not dress your dog up and keep them warm at the same time?
Dogs can also get wet from falling snow or just from walking through thick snow — always towel dry them when they come back inside and be sure to wash their feet (and bellies on those low riders) to remove any salt or ice-melter. Keeping the hair between their toes trimmed can also help prevent those painful snow balls, as could boots. It should be a no-brainer that you shouldn’t shave your dog and keep baths to the minimum as they can easily be chilled if they are not thoroughly dry. And, just like you, they can end up dry and flaky if they bathe too often, so be sure to choose a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
Sometimes feeding a little more will be necessary as when they are outside in this cold they will burn more calories. Always ensure they have access to plenty of water, as staying hydrated will help with their dry skin. If you have to keep your dog outside then ensure they have a warm, dry kennel with fresh water that does not freeze.
If you allow your cat to be an outside cat, or even an indoor/outdoor cat, you should be aware of the conditions before you let them outside. Cats are very susceptible to frostbitten ears, tails and even their noses, as well as hypothermia. Cats can very easily freeze to death if they cannot find a warm place to go.
One of the places they do enjoy warming themselves in is the engine of your car. Think how warm your engine is after a quick drive; it’s the perfect place for cats to warm up. Always honk your horn or bang on the hood of your car to scare any cats away. Keep an eye on your cat's paws too, they can easily become sore and crack when spent walking on ice and snow. If you have to keep your cats outside then you have to provide them with a warm place to stay where their water will not freeze and they have a constant source of food.
Remember: If it’s too cold for you then it’s too cold for them. Keep your pets inside during these extreme cold temperatures. They would thank you if they could.
- Submitted by Amanda Tetarenko, Moose Jaw Humane Society