Keep your pets safe and warm this winter

Even well-loved family pets can become sick or injured in harsh weather.

The SPCA responds to countless cases where animals are in serious distress after being deliberately neglected outdoors, even well-loved family pets can become sick or injured in harsh weather. Some simple tips can keep your pet healthy and happy this winter:

• Antifreeze can be a deadly winter hazard for pets, who find the taste appealing. Ethylene glycol antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets and wildlife — a mere tablespoon is enough to kill a cat or small dog. Ensure you are using pet-safe, propylene-based antifreeze, which you will find at automotive supply stores if you’re adding it yourself, or you can ask your mechanic for it if you’re having your vehicle professionally winterized.

• Road salt is toxic if ingested and can also irritate dogs’ paws. Pay special attention to where your dog is walking and ensure you wipe his paws thoroughly after walks and play to remove any salt.

•  Ice can also cut your dog’s paws — watch your dog closely for signs he may be injured during exercise, and check for cuts and sores after exercise.

• Cats and wild animals have been known to seek warmth inside the motor compartment of vehicles during winter. Make it a habit to thump the hood of your car before starting it to chase away any animals who may be hiding inside.

•  The BC SPCA is strongly opposed to keeping pets outside, particularly in cold temperatures. If you must leave your animal outside for short periods, ensure your animal has an appropriate shelter that is elevated off the ground, insulated, regularly cleaned and cleared of any environmental debris. The outdoor shelter should also be appropriate to the weight and coat of the animal, enabling standing, lying down and turning around freely and easily. Your dog must also have access to potable water at all times.

Lorie Chortyk is the general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.