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Calgary cold snap affects man's best friend

Last Updated Jan 15, 2020 at 8:51 am MST

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The extreme cold haunting Calgary citizens right now is also having similar effects on the furry friends some people live with.

Dogs, cats, and other pets experience many of the same cold-weather health symptoms that people do and need to be kept warm during the cold snap.

Jessica Bohrson with the Calgary Humane Society said it’s very important to keep an eye on your animal and recognize how the cold could affect their specific breed.

“If they have a short coat, if they’re a tiny, little dog, just be very aware that when it’s this cold outside, they honestly need to keep both their walks and their bathroom breaks extremely short.”

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Frostbite can affect animals in the same way it does humans. Untreated or repeatedly affected areas can result in permanent tissue damage and, in extreme cases, loss of limb.

The most venerable parts on animals are their extremities, like the tips of the ears and tail, and body parts not covered by fur, like paw pads and noses.

Bohrson said that there are cold weather preparations to be put in place for pets before going outside.

“We recommend, obviously, adding a layer of protection, even just for the short walks. So, coats and little boots for their paws.”

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However, she reminded pet owners to keep in mind that the winter clothing available for pets doesn’t cover everything and won’t ensure safety in extended periods of cold exposure.

For dogs who spend most of their time outside, a properly heated dog house and heated water bowl must be available at all times in the extreme temperatures.

Unfortunately, some animals, if kept inside for too long, go a little stir-crazy and will need exercise. Bohrson said to remain strong and limit their time outside.

“If you’re cold outside, they’re cold. Even though they’re telling you that they want to play and jump around in the snow, just think of your dog as similar to a child. You need to make the decisions for them.”

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She suggested other enrichment activities, such as hide-and-go-seek, hiding treats, or other games to keep your pet active and engaged.