May 29, 2024

As the winter months continue to roll on, it is essential to make sure pets get proper protection from the Canadian cold. The months of February and early March can see some extreme cold, so being aware of the weather is important for your animal’s safety. 

“If it’s too cold for us to go outside, it’s likely too cold for our pets too,” said Calla James, the director of community engagement and outreach for the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society.

For some breeds of dogs, usually smaller dogs, extra protection is needed to keep them safe from the effects of winter. 

“I have the little booties for my dog because she has really deep pads in her paws,” said Billie Jo, owner of a dachshund-jack russel mixed dog. “The snow and ice can get up in there which in the past has led to bleeding in her paws.”

Sidney prepares for a walk in the cold with her owner and the extra protection of her booties in Hamilton on Jan. 29, 2022. Photo by: Billie Jo.

Walkways that are ice-covered or salt-covered are things pet owners should avoid when taking their animals on walks. 

“If you see a heavily salted area just try to walk around it to avoid hurting your animal’s paws,” said James. 

There are ways to help if you cannot avoid these salted areas, things like paw balm or plain petroleum jelly can help relieve the pain in the paws. 

For owners who need to put salt down on driveways and walkways, there are pet-friendly versions of salt to use as an alternative.

“Things like paw-friendly salt or sand are great ways to help keep the pets in your community pain-free,” said James.

Not all extra protection like jackets and boots are good for outdoor pets. Owners know how their pets will react so it’s best if they make that decision.

“It’s individual to the dog, whether or not the pet owners feel they would benefit from that,” said James. 

Being mindful of extreme weather warnings is also important to keep your pet warm.

“When it’s cold we tend to take short walks; we don’t stay outside that often,” said Jo.

During the chilling last months of winter, it is also important to think about stray animals like community or feral cats who don’t have a home to go to at night. Winterized shelters are one way to keep them safe. 

“Giving them insulated boxes, like an outdoor house is a great way to ensure they stay safe and warm,” said James. “They’re definitely susceptible to frostbitten tips of ears, tails, and paws.” 

To find ways to build a community cat shelter, check here or YouTube.

“I know lots of people in my area who have taken the time to build cat shelters and they say they get used quite often,” said Jo.

In Waterloo Region, if there is an animal that is sick or injured from the cold, the local humane societies are able to take that animal into their care. 

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