Overexposure to the cold can be fatal for dogs, says Saving Grace Animal Society’s executive director.
“Long-term exposure to these kinds of inclement temperatures without proper vetting, shelter and heat can lead to them passing away. We’ve seen it first-hand,” Erin Deems said Tuesday afternoon.
Temperatures in Red Deer are expected to stay below -20 C until the weekend, according to Environment Canada.
Alberta SPCA peace officers opened 31 investigations Monday, which is the largest single-day complaint total in recent history, the organization said on Facebook Tuesday morning.
“Most of the complaints are related to the cold and animals without shelter,” the post said.
The Animal Protection Act requires owners to provide protection from injurious heat or cold. What’s required is different depending on the species and breed, but shelter must be provided to give the animals a break from the weather.
Saving Grace, an animal rescue organization, is based in Alix.
Deems recommends dog owners should “do as much indoor activity as possible to stimulate their brain instead of taking them outdoors.”
“They can really only go outdoors to go to the washroom and come back in. There are breeds that can thrive in these temperatures, but that percentage is so low, so doing enrichment activities such as puzzle games, tug of war or doing some indoor training to make their mind work is so much better for them than taking them for a walk,” she said.
The temperature a dog can withstand depends on the breed, said Deems.
“With short-haired dogs, I would say don’t go out past -22 or so and for the long-hair coats, once you get around -27 or -28 and into the -40 area with windchill. It’s really not worth it,” she said.
When the weather starts warming up a bit, it’s still important dog owners keep their pets safe from the winter elements, said Deems.
“There’s quite a few things you can do to really gear up to go outside with your animals this winter,” said Deems, adding pets can wear boots or jackets to help keep them warm.
“There’s also a couple of creams you can put on their paws just to give them a little bit of extra protection, especially with the salts we’re using in the winter season. It can be hard on the pads of their feet.”