THUNDER BAY -- The blast of Arctic air that’s swept through the region this week is prompting a warning from the Thunder Bay and District Humane Society.
Maryann Kleynendorst, the organization’s executive director, says just because a dog or cat has a healthy coat of fur doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to cold weather. Pet owners should take extra precaution when letting their animals outside until the weather warms up, she added.
“They feel it just as much as we do and they need the same protections we do in terms of shelter and food and being protected, particularly older dogs, short-hair dogs, cats. Puppies are particularly vulnerable in this kind of weather,” Kleynendorst said.
“A pup, like a baby, doesn’t create a lot of its own body heat and things can go bad for them fairly quickly. We’d just really like to caution people about animals that may be OK outside when its -5 C to -10 C are not going to be OK outside in this extreme weather that we’re going to be heading out into the next week or so.”
She thinks people make the mistake of thinking because there’s a thick layer of fur that the cold won’t seep through.
That’s often not the case, Kleynendorst said.
“Maybe he is OK and maybe your dog isn’t actually dying, but he probably isn’t very happy and he’s probably not very comfortable. And it’s extremely hard on his system. Even outdoor dogs need some protection from this weather.”
A good doghouse is a start, preferably one with insulation, nice bedding and a flap to keep the cold at bay.
Water is also an issue.
“There are heated water dishes you can buy from most of the pet stores in town and also from any of the feed stores. They work really, really well and they keep the water warm enough that the animals are willing to drink it.
“Animals don’t want to drink ice cold, almost freezing water anymore than we do really.”
Cats are also vulnerable to the cold, although for different reasons than dogs.
While most can find shelter from the weather, it’s where they choose to burrow themselves that can lead to problems.
“They want to crawl up inside warm vehicles. So if you’re in a neighbourhood where you know there are some stray cats around, it’s probably not a bad idea to give your hood a bit of a thump before you start your car, or lay on the horn a little bit, which may drive your neighbours crazy at five in the morning, but you might save a cat.”
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