As is so common with February in Weyburn, extreme cold has embraced the area. It has even prompted Environment Canada to issue extreme cold warnings, with temperatures overnight getting down to -30°, and the windchill making it feel even colder.
In their weather advisory, Environment Canada pointed out that if it is too cold outside for people, it is also too cold for pets to stay outdoors. This is a sentiment echoed by Andrea Clarke. She is a veterinarian with Prairie Animal Health Centre in Weyburn.
“Some pets do go outside, spend a lot of time outside,” Clarke said. “Those with better hair coats and such can tolerate a bit more, but even then, you still have to watch for wind chill factors. It doesn’t have to be very cold but the wind chill can make things a lot worse.”
The cold weather can impact all pets that go outside, whether they are cats or dogs. There are even a few places to watch for things such as frostbite, as it is something that can happen in pets despite the fact they have a layer of fur.
“A lot of them don’t have protection on their (foot) pads,” Clarke added. “They might have a bit of hair around them, but not much, so they can even get frostbite on their feet, their ears, and cats we see it on their tails as well.”
Shelter is also very important for those that do have to go outside, as it can protect them from the wind before they get inside.
Those who take their pets for walks can also take extra precautions. Clarke recommended a coat or a layer of protection, such as fleece, for their bodies, although it does depend on their hair coat. Booties can also help protect the pads of their feet.
So what about dogs that go outside to do their business?
Clarke pointed out that oftentimes when it is extremely cold, they get calls at the health centre about animals that go outside, but come back in and pee in the house.
“Sometimes they just go outside long enough to relieve the pressure, but they’re not finishing the job,” Clarke explained. “You kind of want to be aware of what your animal is doing outside. If you’re letting it out to go potty, don’t be surprised, especially the smaller dogs or the shorter-haired dogs, they just don’t want to do it outside. They’ll just pee enough to be comfortable and then they come in again.”
The extreme cold is expected to linger for at least another day or two before things start to warm up again towards seasonal on the weekend. You can get the latest forecast by visiting the Discover Weyburn Weather page.