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Animal House: Winter dangers for animals can be avoided

Elsie DeBay was always willing to speak up when she saw dogs being neglected and suffering from the cold.

Elsie, who served for many years as Colchester County’s animal control officer, died in the spring. In her absence, her husband, Kirk DeBay, wants to remind people to protect their pets from the dangers of cold weather.

“She was always worried about animals being left outside this time of year,” he said.

“Around Christmas was a time of year she had a lot of problems. People would put their animals outside because they had a lot of people coming and going. I remember she had to go out on a dog call one year just when Christmas dinner was almost ready.”

Pets shouldn’t be left outside for long when the temperature is below freezing, and short-coated dogs - and puppies - may need a sweater or coat just to run out for a short period.

My Chihuahua has always been very sensitive to cold. Now that he’s 13 years old he hates to go out on chilly days, so he uses a pee pad as a toilet.

If you have a dog that likes to walk in the winter, clean their feet and legs to remove any salt or other de-icers when you come inside. If your dog will wear them, a pair of boots are good for winter walks.

Like humans, pets can suffer from hypothermia, which can lead to death. If your dog is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them inside quickly.

Animals can also suffer from frostbite. Even large animals, like horses, can suffer from the cold if they don’t have shelter and high-quality feed, especially if there is rain, snow or wind.

And when walking your dog, remember the increased risk of antifreeze poisoning during the winter. Dogs like the taste and it can be deadly.

“Elsie always reminded people that pets are part of the family, and should be a part of Christmas,” said Kirk.

A dog’s favourite gift is usually the presence of his/her people, and pets can bring a lot of joy when you share your holidays with them.

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