December 15, 2016, TORONTO - "The arrival of biting winds, brutally cold temperatures and snow is putting some pets at risk," warns Humane Society of Canada (HSC) Western Regional Director, Al Hickey. 

Two conditions caused by the cold are frostbite and hypothermia. Old and very young pets are most susceptible to these conditions - but even the healthiest pets are susceptible to cold weather. Pets kept outdoors or who are allowed outdoors for extended periods are at risk of developing frostbite or hypothermia.

"Allowing pets outside for only short, supervised periods during cold weather will help protect them from frostbite and hypothermia," advises Hickey.

Since pets are social animals, The HSC would prefer to see them kept as "indoor pets" as opposed to chained to a doghouse or allowed to run-at-large. "Dogs and cats kept as indoor animal companions are happier, healthier and less likely to be injured or become sick," says Michael O’Sullivan, Executive Director of the HSC.

Other seasonal hazards for pets are ice balls and salt that can cause discomfort to the animal’s paws. Ice and salt can be removed by gently and carefully placing the paws in warm (never hot) water and then drying them off with a towel. Boots made for companion animals can be used to protect your pets’ paws during walks.

"Brutal accidents involving cats being killed or seriously injured by vehicle fans and fan belts is more common than most people think," says O’Sullivan. Cats seeking shelter and warmth climb up under the hoods of vehicles. When the engine is turned on these unsuspecting felines are struck by the fan or fan belt. "People can virtually assure that this tragic accident does not happen to them by banging on the vehicle’s hood or honking the horn, waiting a few moments for any sleeping felines to escape, before starting the engine," assures O’Sullivan.

Another seasonal hazard is ethylene glycol, found in many products including antifreeze. Even a small amount of this toxic substance can kill an animal. Products containing ethylene glycol must be kept away from pets (and children). Consideration should be given to using a less toxic brand of antifreeze which are now available.

"One of the best ways to protect animals is to take the time to educate people as to how they can protect their pets" says O’Sullivan. Anyone who sees an animal being neglected or abused should call his or her local authorities or the Humane Society of Canada at 1-800-641-KIND (5463).

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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