With low temperatures and icy weather fast approaching, many pet owners are unaware of things they should be doing to take care of their animals.
A Newfoundland winter is enough to chill anyone to the bone, and that includes your four-legged friends.
According to Krista Pender, a veterinary technician at the St. John’s Veterinary Hospital, many pet owners face common misconceptions about caring for their animals during the colder months.
“A lot of people think it’s OK to leave a pet in a car, no matter the weather,” Pender said. “But not everyone realizes that the cold will set in just as quickly as heat will in summer.”
When it comes to keeping your pet in the yard, Pender says that making sure the area is free of debris, ice and large snow drifts can help keep your pet safe when they are out and about doing their business.
“Make sure their feet are protected when taking them for walks or letting them outside for a period of time,” she said. “Clean their feet as soon as they come back inside to get off any salt or ice that might be stuck to them.”
Salt, Pender said, is one thing many pet owners don’t know to be wary of.
“It can really bother their skin, so you shouldn’t spread salt anywhere that your pet might go often,” Pender said. “You should always make sure the weather is appropriate to be out in, for both you and the animal. If you wouldn’t go out in it, neither should they.”
The city of St. John’s bylaw 1514 for animal control lists all regulations regarding outdoor animal care.
The bylaw states that any animal who is left outside for an extended period of time must have a shelter that protects them from the elements, is of sufficient size, and is heated from Nov. 1 until April 30. While there is no specific minimum temperature according to the city, the shelter must be insulated.
The city also has a list of pet owner responsibilities, which highlights everything from licensing to living accommodations for domestic animals in St. John’s.
“It’s usually just misinformation, I don’t think many pet owners even realize that they’re doing something wrong.”
For some pet owners here, however, winter care for their animals is already top priority.
Emily Harris has been living in St. John’s for the last several years.
“I have a maltese and because of her breed she has no undercoat,” Harris said. “She doesn’t have normal fur, she has hair like you and I, so the cold months are hard on her especially because she loves her walks. We bundle her up either in a dog sweater or coat, and we make knitted sweaters for her so they fit her perfectly, and she loves them.”
Danielle Layte, another dog owner and lover in St. John’s, echoed Pender’s words.
“With all the salt on the roads it can be irritating, and the cold alone can cause their paws to dry out and crack,” she said. “I definitely recommend a pad-protecting balm for any active dog during the cold season.”
The importance of keeping your furry friends safe in the winter is often overlooked, Pender says, but she’s happy to see more people talking about it and spreading tips for other animal lovers out there.
For those who don’t know and understand the regulations in place, Pender said that anyone convicted can be fined a hefty amount.
“It’s usually just misinformation, I don’t think many pet owners even realize that they’re doing something wrong,” she said. “Talking more about it and sharing tips with other owners is the best way to help people understand and give the best possible care to their pets. It’s not as hard as it seems.”