While exercising your pets is important, keeping them sheltered from the deep freeze of cold temperatures making it's way through Saskatchewan as of late takes precedence. If you happen to be a pet owner of one of the dog breeds that can handle their usual walk in this weather, then there's a few things you need to keep in mind.

"If you are able to withstand it yourself and you're going to take your pets out for a walk, boots," says Chief of Veterinary operations with the Prairie Animal health Centre Kristin Caldwell. "They really do need to have some foot protection when it's this cold out. There is a few breeds out there that have some really hairy feet, a Burmese, a Pyrenees, they're going to do a little bit better, but your short coated dogs like a Labrador or a Retriever which are really common, those guys don't have enough fur on their feet to keep their toes warm."

Many pet owners with outside pets have been bringing them in as of late because of the cold temperatures, but pet owners who brave the cold with their pets should still be aware of the signs of frostbite. Cracking on the paws can occur when the pet has been out for a walk or left outside for too long.

"The areas in particular that you're going to watch are around the edges of the ear and the tip of the tail. You're going to look for swelling of that tissue, you may also notice that it's discoloured on lighter coloured dogs you may be able to see that where it looks maybe bluish or grey."

It's important to use your sense of feel as well as the pet's to determine these symptoms as well. If you pet isn't acting like it's in pain when you touch those areas, make sure to feel for possible cracks are a brittleness to the animal's skin, as well as for the temperature. While the rest of the body tends to warm up, the affected areas seem to stay quite cool.

Another thing to keep your pets safe during the cold winter months involves checking your vehicle.

"When it's this cold out, this is really important, lots of outdoor cats will seek shelter in vehicle motors. That's probably the number one thing we'd see this time of year."

After bringing your vehicle to your home and turning it off, often times stray and outside cats will crawl into the warm motor of a vehicle to warm themselves, putting them at risk of being hurt if the vehicle is started shortly afterwards. There have been many cases of cats falling out of vehicles while driving or even losing their tail thanks to spinning belts in the vehicle.

All said and done, Caldwell adds that luckily this year they have not had many cases of either frostbite or cats being hurt in accidents this winter.

 

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