(Main picture Dallas, up for adoption now at the Niagara Falls Humane Society) Every season brings challenges to pet care and ownership: with summer the inevitable heat and potential for dehydration is a prime cause of animal illness or even death. At the other end of the Canadian spectrum is winter.


Most dogs enjoy being wherever their family is, be it inside or out, and many dogs enjoy the colder snowy weather our winters bring, but like summer, there are still precautions needed to keep our pets safe from the extremes that are often the hallmark of the season. The NFHS is committed to ensuring all animals are cared for properly, not just homeless or abandoned pets and safety in all weathers is part of that.

As with humans, the dry, cold winter air can wreak havoc on a dog’s skin. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, heavy fur coverings don’t always completely protect a dog from the drying effects, and less outdoorsy type dogs can experience drying even more so. Dry, itchy skin, cracked paws, sores as a result of ice-melting compounds can result in a lot of discomfort for our furry friends, and sometimes even illness. (Below, Holly, up for adoption now)


It’s not difficult to be able to help your pet slide through this icy time with little discomfort. Basic and regular grooming is really all it takes. Pay attention to the paws: if nails are untrimmed, it can cause a pet’s food to splay, allowing ice and chemicals to reach the tender areas and causing pain and abrasions. Also, trimming the fur in the pads will prevent uncomfortable ice balls from forming, which can contribute to swelling and possibly sores if left unchecked.

Regular brushing of your dog’s coat will also help by stimulating oil glands to keep the skin moisturized and exfoliated. A healthy diet, with omega fats, is also a good idea in colder weather.  (Below Carlos, has been waiting a long while for a new home….look at this sweetie)!carlos


After every walk, do a cursory check of your dog’s paws, and if necessary, rub on a little paw balm or petroleum jelly, both are safe ways to eliminate irritation from chemicals or harsh elements.

Paw protectors are also a good idea and are available at pet stores and large department stores in all sizes.

Refrain from too many baths during winter, as well. A dog’s skin can be very sensitive to the often harsh chemicals in commercial soaps and shampoos. The PH can be affected easily as bathing removes essential skin oils which can contribute to dry, itchy skin or allergies. If it’s necessary to bath your dog, a gentle moisturizing shampoo recommended by your vet is advised.

And, just as in hot temperatures vigilance is needed in keeping water dishes filled and providing appropriate shelter, so it is in winter. Some dogs like to be outside for long periods, certain breeds prefer it, but many dogs are not able to withstand being outside all day in winter. Keep on top of external temperatures and monitor your dog’s time outside. Provide adequate shelter options for when you are outside for extended periods and bring them in to enjoy family time and warm up.

The pets staying at the NFHS also need a little TLC and donations from the public are always welcome to bring a little cheer into their lives. Currently, non-coloured dog and cat foods are needed, as well as clumping cat litter. All can be dropped at the main location or the Cat Adoption Centre in Niagara Square.

Volunteering is also a good way to brighten up the dogs and cats lives. Dog walkers and cat cuddlers are always welcome and with the colder weather looming, a good way to get exercise and out of the house.

Contact the NFHS or CAC for further information on either donations or volunteering. Email: humane@nfhs.ca; phone: 905-356-4404. Goods donated can be dropped at NFHS, 6025 Chippawa Parkway, Niagara Falls.

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