Local animal hospital urges pet owners to be mindful during cold season



By Jolene Perron


Going outside in sub-zero temperatures requires a number of layers, pre-heating a vehicle, and even warm beverages to sip on, and your furry friends also need some extra attention.

Dr. Nicole Dumouchelle from Fort Malden Animal Hospital is asking pet parents to pay attention to weather conditions before going for walks.

“If you need a winter jacket, your dog likely does as well,” said Dumouchelle. “Dogs with short fur and bald bellies are especially at risk.”

Dumouchelle said pet owners should also consider winter booties for their dogs, which can help to protect their feet from the cold as well as the harsh salt. However, if your fur baby doesn’t like the booties, ensure you are wiping their feet after going for walks. There are also beeswax or coconut oil based balms you rub on your pet’s paws to protect their pads from cracking.

“Don’t leave dogs outside unattended,” said Dumouchelle. “If your dog does like to spend time outside in the cold, make sure they have proper shelter and a water source that isn’t frozen over. Heated water bowls work well.”
Cats get cold as well, even the strays many feed in their neighbourhoods. Dumouchelle said make sure they are also taken care of with warm shelters. The internet has plenty of “easy-to construct cat shelters” made from inexpensive products.

“Some pets are less active in the winter months; others are more active,” said Dumouchelle. “Pay attention to your dog’s body condition score and modify their meals as needed. We are happy to examine your pet and teach you healthy body condition scoring at the clinic.”

Another tip to keep in mind is that many dogs hate having cold paws and are less likely to “do their business” in the snow, which puts them as risk for constipation. Dumouchelle suggested pet owners shovel a small patch of grass so they feel more comfortable going about their “business.”

While Dumouchelle still sees limping dogs that are injured often due to excitement in the ice and snow, and dry skin due to dry climates, she said the issues she sees could easily be avoided.

“I am so lucky to work in a pet-loving community. I no longer see many major issues like frost bite or hypothermia,” said Dumouchelle. “Care should be taken to prevent injury. Keep your dogs on leash when you are unsure about ice under the snow.”

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