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Managing The Winter

Common Sense Protection For Pets ‘Surviving The Winter’

Winter is approaching and some common sense practices will guarantee your pet survives the winter’s wrath in safety and comfort. The luckiest pets are those who are true companion animals and live in the house in warmth and comfort. Unfortunately many are forced to live outdoors in less than adequate shelter. If your pet is outdoors for any length of time, a draft free well constructed dog house is a necessity. Few breeds are suited to be left outdoors overnight in the severe weather we have in Sudbury. Dogs and cats can become disorientated quickly in snow storms so never let your pet loose even for a few minutes on those nights where you do not want to go outside to walk them as they can become lost very quickly and not survive a night in the cold.

In preparation for the long winter, many let their dog’s coats grow long and shaggy. This is fine if you keep them brushed and free from mats. A matted coat is a poor insulator and retains moisture. A well-brushed coat is a great insulator. Try not to wait too late in the fall to clip a coat short…they need at least an inch of growth to protect them from wind and cold. Dogs and cats with short hair do require a warm coat or sweater with a high collar that stretches the complete length of the pet and around under the belly. Some pets even wear ‘booties’ to protect their feet from cold, salt and water.

In this day and age, cats are no longer allowed the freedom to roam the neighborhood and should be confined to your own property. Cats lost in the winter can quickly freeze, become stolen, injured or killed. Cats sometime will also seek refuge from the cold and sleep under hoods of cars for warmth and comfort. This can have fatal results. Banging gently on the hood of the car before starting will give the cat a chance to escape. Never leave your dog or cat in an unattended car for any length of time because just as in summer, temperatures in a vehicle change rapidly and a car can become a deadly refrigerator quickly.

The most deadly hazard for pets in the winter is engine ANTIFREEZE. Pets like to lick this sweet tasting fluid and even a very tiny dose can cause a lethal and hideous death. Clean up any spills of this lethal poison and keep pets away from the area or underside of your vehicle. Try using a ‘pet-friendly’ product containing propylene glycol instead of the deadly ethylene glycol. Wiping your dog’s underside and even going as far as to rinse the salt off of the feet of your dog from sidewalks or roadways when returning from a walk will prevent them from licking it and feeling under the weather.

Puppies and older pets are more susceptible to winter’s cold and require extra care and nutrition. High energy and active dogs who like to participate in winter outdoor activities require an increased diet of higher protein food.

Last but not least wearing a City of Greater Sudbury dog or cat license will guarantee your pets timely and safe return if lost in the winter. Injured pets with licenses can be traced 24 hours a day and can receive veterinary attention more quickly, which could save their life. In closing, I would also like to state that practicing some common sense and preventative measures will help your pet survive the winter and avoid any of the dangers outlined above. More information can be found at www.gsshelter.ca.

Richard Paquette
Supervisor, Greater Sudbury Animal Shelter

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