Extra precautions needed for pets during cold weather snaps

Dave Mathieson
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UPPER NAPPAN – Pets can get on the nerves when they constantly bark and meow to go outside, especially when it’s too cold.

“Lot’s of times they’re smarter than we are,” said Marilyn Williams with a laugh. “But in that situation you have to let them whine and cry and scratch or whatever they do at the door because you have to be the responsible person.”

Williams is the president at the Lillian Albon Animal Shelter in Upper Nappan.

“The cold is the main thing to be concerned about at this time of year, so we certainly recommend animals are kept inside, except to go out and do their business,” said Williams. “My motto is go out and have a pee, a poop and a swoop. The pet goes out, takes care of business and swoops right back in.”

She also says it’s a good idea to accompany your dog when they go outside.

“If a dog is elderly, a lot of older dogs are arthritic or have bad joints, so it’s important to go outside with them,” she said. “If you send them out by themselves and they fall or slip they’re probably going to do a lot of damage to themselves because they are old and it’s easy for them to fall and hurt themselves. It’s the same with older people.”

When taking dogs for a walk in cold weather, Williams recommends a shorter walk.

“Also, a good idea is to put Vaseline on the pads of their feet because when they come in it makes it easier to wipe their feet off,” said Williams. “Salt can be very dangerous, so it’s important to wipe their feet off.”

Clothing is a good idea as well.

“If they’re shorthaired they should have a sweater or jacket when they’re outside,” she said. “A lot of people think if they’re longhaired, like a husky, that they can stay out for 24 hours. That’s not true. Dogs are not equipped to be out in really, really cold temperatures.”

Pets who spend a lot of time outside should be provided with a shelter.

“Number one, it has to be really, really well insulated, and it needs to have a covering over the door so the wind and snow doesn’t blow in,” said Williams. “It needs some nice warm straw and blankets but, even at that, people don’t understand, when a dog goes out that door he’s dragging all that moister back in with him. He lays down and everything gets damp, so he’s not as warm as you might think he is.”

Animal cruelty charges were laid against a man in North Preston this week after his dog was found frozen to death inside its doghouse in late December. The body of the dog was frozen to the floor of its doghouse. The dog died of malnutrition and hypothermia.

“Putting an animal out 24/7 or even half of the day is not a way to treat a family pet, especially under extreme conditions,” said Williams. “People say, ‘oh well, it’s fine to leave a dog out for 24 hours and not bring them in the house,’ but they still call it a family pet.

“This pet is, supposedly, part of your family,” she added. “Would you put a family member outdoors in the freezing cold for hours on end?”

Williams encourages people to call the SPCA if they see a dog tied up outside 24/7.

“Keep calling. Don’t call once. Call six times if you have to,” she said. “Keep calling until somebody goes to check the situation out.”

Another hazard to be aware of during the winter is antifreeze spilled on the ground.

“If your animals are out roaming, you never know if they are going to encounter antifreeze,” said Williams. “It’s a terrible, terrible death, so that’s another reason to keep your dog at home.”

Cats on top of car engines are another problem.

“A lot of the strays are out looking for warm places to go. They love to get up under the hood of your car near the engine after you have been out somewhere,” said Williams. “You should always bang on your hood before you start up your vehicle because, many times, there’s an animal under there trying to stay warm.”

The L.A. Animal Shelter has many pets available for adoption and is open during the winter Wednesday to Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m.



Organizations: Lillian Albon Animal Shelter

Geographic location: UPPER NAPPAN, North Preston

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