November 14, 2002, VANCOUVER - Fall and winter can be hazardous to pets who are not adequately protected from all of the seasonal elements. Rain, sleet, snow, ice and brutally cold temperatures are just some of the things that can put our animal companions in danger. According to The Humane Society of Canada (HSC), these potential dangers, which can injure and kill many pets every year, can be averted with education and by taking some preventative measures to ensure our pets’ safety and well-being.


"By learning the seasonal dangers facing pets and ensuring that our animal companions aren’t put in a position where they could suffer, we can protect our ‘best friends’ from the weather and other seasonal hazards," advises Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director.

"One of the best ways to ensure your animal companions’ safety is to keep them as ‘indoor pets’," recommends HSC Executive Director Michael O’Sullivan. "Pets are social animals who prefer to be indoors with their human companions. And this indoor living is not only more enjoyable for pets, it is also much safer".

O’Sullivan, whose family includes several feline and canine members, not only wants people to be aware of the dangers facing pets at this time of year, but he’s asking that they inform others who may be putting their animals in danger. "It’s not enough to know the dangers facing pets, we have to take the time to warn and educate others about the seasonal dangers they may be exposing their pets to," says O’Sullivan. "And if they don’t take the necessary measures to adequately protect their pets then the appropriate authorities should be contacted. It is everyone’s responsibility to help animals in need".

Some of the common fall and winter dangers facing pets are:

Frostbite & Hypothermia

  • Frostbite occurs when parts of the body (usually the less protected areas such as the tips of the ears) sustain tissue damage due to being exposed to cold temperatures.
  • Hypothermia occurs when an animal’s body temperature drops as a result of heat being lost faster than it can be replaced. Old, and very young animals are most susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Animals suffering from frostbite or hypothermia require immediate veterinary attention.

Ensure that your animals do not suffer from the cold by not allowing them outside for too long of a period during cold weather and ensuring that they are adequately protected from the cold, wind and snow or rain at all times.

Ice & Salt

  • Dogs and cats can develop ice balls between their toes which are uncomfortable.
  • Salt, used to melt snow and ice, can also cause discomfort for pets.

Remove any ice balls and salt from a pet’s paws by carefully placing the paws in warm (never hot) water and then drying them off with a towel. Animal companions taken for a walk can also be equipped with pet boots made for this purpose.

Fans & Fan Belts

  • Many cats are killed and seriously injured every year when they climb up under the hood of vehicles - usually to seek warmth and shelter.
  • The animals are killed when the vehicle’s engine is turned on and the cat is struck by the vehicle’s fan or fan belt.

Warn cats who may be under your vehicle’s hood by honking the horn (and waiting several seconds to allow a cat to escape before turning on the engine) or banging on the hood.

Ethylene Glycol

  • Ethylene glycol a very toxic substance that is present in antifreeze, brake fluid and other substances.
  • Ethylene glycol is used more during the fall, winter and early spring when antifreeze is used to a greater extent.
  • Even small amounts of ethylene glycol can kill an animal or cause severe and irreparable kidney damage.
  • Common signs of an animal who has ingested ethylene glycol includes: vomiting, weakness, lack of coordination, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Animals suspected of ingesting ethylene glycol must be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

    Ensure that ethylene glycol is inaccessible to animals and children at all times. Immediately and thoroughly clean up any ethylene glycol that is spilt. Use, whenever possible, less toxic antifreezes which are available.

    First Aid Kit
    No matter how diligent we are when it comes to protecting our pets, accidents happen. For this reason it is important to have a quality first aid kit nearby. You can obtain a well-stocked first aid kit from The Humane Society of Canada. This kit will not only help to protect your animal companions, but the revenue generated from the sale of these kits will help other animals in need. HSC first aid kits can be ordered online or by calling (toll free) 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 via twitter at and on Facebook at:

    [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.

    The only organization of its kind, seven days a week, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works across the street, across Canada and around the world helping people, animals and the environment.

    The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) depends entirely on donations to support our programs to help animals and the environment. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. If you would like to support our educational campaigns that protect animals and the environment please make a donation here. Because when it comes to fighting cruelty and violence, we don’t give up. Ever.