The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says pet owners need to make sure their four-legged family members are able to brave the current frigid conditions.
The organization’s simple advice: if it’s too cold for you, then it’s likely too cold for your pet.
“Every different species is going to have a different comfort level of how much coldness, or hotness, they can take,” said Peterborough SPCA officer Dan Pazder.
Pazder says pet owners need to keep a careful eye on their pets when the thermometer drops.
He says watch for sudden changes in size and behaviour. “Are they losing weight? Are they constantly lifting their paws off the ground? Are they frantically trying to get into the house? Are they lethargic and not doing well?”
“A lot of the time we’re dealing with people who aren’t educated and they just aren’t realizing their animals’ needs are higher than what they think,” Pazder said.
The SPCA says outdoor pets need access to a shelter — preferably one that’s elevated, insulated with a wind flap and large enough for a dog to stand and stretch in.
When it comes to daily walks, Peterborough Humane Society spokesperson Sue Dunkley recommends shorter distances and clothing options such as sweaters and jackets.
“It’s all about common sense and trying to be as proactive as possible,” said Dunkley, manager of development and outreach. “Your pet needs exercise, you need exercise. It’s all about a healthy new year and a healthy new start. Get out there and exercise — just do it sensibly.”
And Dunkley says residents also need to keep an eye out for stray animals, especially when getting into a vehicle.
“When you’re going to your car, if you just give a little pound at the top of the car, if there’s a cat, it’ll scare it out before you start your engine,” she said.
“We would also ask people to be watching because if you see puddles this time of year, it usually means there’s antifreeze or something in the snow.”