Who Rescue’s Who?

By: Andrea Young

We’ve all heard the phrase and we all know the answer. Every pet I’ve had has always come when I’ve needed them. Good times and in bad. They have all had a story, and it’s usually a bad one.

People in rescue are like that too.  We are a diverse group with varying upbringings. Some traumatic, some abusive, some neglectful, some spiteful, and some loveless.

I was one of the lucky ones until I wasn’t.

We lost my eldest son to violence. My world imploded. I had been a single parent and I felt my purpose was no more, or so I thought.

I had to start taking care of me. I had a 5-year-old depending on me and a husband desperately trying to mend us all.

I became the Director of Victims of Homicide, a support group in the city of Edmonton. It was there that my true purpose exposed itself. I had to bring my dog into the meeting with me one day as I don’t leave my dogs in the car. We had come from the vet and I had forgotten about the meeting (one of the factors of having PTSD).

Long story short, my beautiful broken boy, Jake (Shepard cross 120lbs) wove some magic and we started to see immense light come back in our members’ eyes.

That experience so inspired me I had found purpose again. I chose to take an animal training course through the Edmonton Humane Society and the lovely, Bilinda Wagner.

I wanted to help those that were as broken as me and that didn’t have a voice.

My family had done fostering when I was young, and I wonder why I didn’t think of it sooner. At any rate, 89 dogs later and Zoe’s co-director (who I co-parent newborn litters with) asked if I would like to name our newest litter after my son.

I think I stopped breathing, thinking and computing. After it all sunk in, what an honour and a privilege it was to remember my son and celebrate these precious lives. It was a full circle moment for me as my son was a HUGE animal lover himself.

In just a few short days ten healthy smart, exuberant and joyful puppies will be making their way to their foster homes to start looking for their forever lives with adopters.

Each puppy name means something to my son, a nickname, a favourite character, a treasured family member or friend and a place he frequented.

He is gone and I can’t change that. The universe knows I’ve tried.

Ten beautiful souls will be spread around with my son’s spirit, and I truly believe he’s in every one of them.

Brandon was kind, funny, clumsy, independent, fearless, an observer, comforting and generous of his time.

These puppies are all that and more. I’m a proud co-mama.

The goodbyes will be tough, I feel like I’m grieving his loss all over again. But truly the honour has been all mine. The joy the purpose the strength they have given me is immeasurable.

To my puppy family:

Pokey, Batman, Cuba, Einstein, Dragon, Tina, Wiley, Betty, Goose and Lexus,

May you know nothing but pure joy and happiness (and you better keep in touch with me!). To Kath Oltsher, who made all of this possible and has rode the emotion train with me, I adore you and respect the hell out of you.

Zoe’s is my lifeline. My second family. My people.

Life can be really hard. Pets always make it better, in the moment and far into the future.

Rescuing is hard, sad, maddening, life sucking, joyful, hilarious and comforting.

I hope, universe willing, I will keep being rescued and I can return the favour!

Please note: If you interested in adopting, please check on our website to see when they will be available. Also, please note that we will NOT be accepting applications prior to. Thank you!

The Benefits Of Crate Training

One people add a pet to their family, specifically a puppy, a big question is whether or not to use a crate.

Some people view crate training as a negative thing, but that shouldn’t be the case. There are many positive benefits for both you and your pet by having your pet crate trained.

It makes house training simple

One of biggest benefits to crate training, especially a puppy, is it makes house training for your pet much more simple.

The first thing pet parents should do when letting their puppy out of their crate is have them go outside right away to pee and or poop. They will learn very quickly that this is what they are supposed to and it definitely helps if they are rewarded with a treat and lots of positive praise for doing so. Dogs are very smart and like routine, so if you do this all the time, they will know that by going outside, they will get rewarded.

With that said, it’s never recommended to leave a puppy six months of age or under in a crate more than three to four hours as they will not be able to hold their bladders for longer periods than that.

There are people who instead will choose to place pee pads down on the floor and either block off an area for their puppy or let their puppy free roam throughout their house. The only downside to using pee pads is constantly having to change them or in some cases, the puppy will miss the pee pads all together and you will be left with a big mess on the floor.

At the end of the day, choose to do whatever you feel works best for you and your puppy.

It makes travel simple

 If you like and or choose to travel with your pet, having a crate for them to stay in is beneficial. Some dogs get very nervous and stressed not only travelling, but staying at a place they are not familiar with.

Having a place for them to decompress in a space they know makes a big difference. If you are staying at someone’s house, an Airbnb or hotel, would mitigate any stress that your pet might have by being in an unfamiliar setting. Some dog can will become destructive due to separation anxiety or stress, and no one wants to have to pay for damages left by your pet.

It’s also much safer for pets to travel when they are secure and if you ever chose to fly with your pet, they will have to go in a crate in order to be allowed to travel.

It also makes transporting your pet to and from the vet much easier if they tend to get stressed in a vehicle.

It can help with separation anxiety

 Many pet parents find themselves in situations where their pet all of a sudden becomes destructive by chewing, digging or peeing and pooping in the house. These can all be symptoms of separation anxiety.

As much as we all would love to bring our dogs with us everywhere we go or stay home with them at all times, it’s unfortunately not possible. Separation anxiety can be a very challenging and stressful situation to deal with.

Crates can help prevent massive destruction from your dog. It’s not to be seen as or used as punishment, but rather a place where they can feel safe and calm. Place their favourite blanket in their crate or you could even put in an old t shirt that you’ve worn so they have your scent with them to help relax them. Make it their home and make it a place where they enjoy going.

With that said, crates are not a solution for separation anxiety, especially in moderate to severe cases. If your dog is dealing with separation anxiety, it’s best speak to your vet.

How do you get started with crate training?

Like any training, go slow. Try giving your pet treats and even small portions of their meals in their crate and leave the door open.

Your dog may whine and cry at first while in their crate, and that’s normal. That’s generally when people decide to give up on crate training as they don’t like hearing or seeing their pet upset. Like anything, it will take time for them to adjust. Unless you notice your pet is highly stressed and agitated, try not to give up.

Make it comfortable for them. Some people will choose to place a pet pillow in their dog’s crate and or also place a comfortable blanket in there. The one downside is if your dog is destructive, you could come home to find their pet pillow ripped apart.

Giving you pet a Kong stuffed with treats or peanut butter (only use all natural to give to your pet) will keep them busy and occupied while in their crate.

Where you decide to place, your crate can also make a big difference. Many dogs like to be where their owners are, so having their crate in your bedroom or living room would be much better than having it in the basement or a spare room that you are never in.

There are a variety of different crates available. Wire ones make it easy for your dog to see out and they are also collapsible which is convenient to take anywhere. Hard shell plastic crates are ones that airlines use to transport dogs, so if you are planning on flying with your pet, that one would be recommended.

The biggest key to crate training is to not use it crate as a form as punishment. You don’t want your dog to associate the crate with any sort of negative connotations. If you notice that your pet is stressed, do not force it.

Dogs can sense your stress, so if you are stressed about using a crate, your pet will also be stressed.

Many people often assume that if a dog was never crate trained as a puppy, that they could never learn. That’s incorrect. You can 100% teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs can learn to be crate trained at any age.

Crate training, when used in a positive manner, is extremely effective for any pet owner.


Protecting Your Dog Against Ticks

As the weather warms up, that means more time outside with your dog. But, with the warm season, also means the return of something else: ticks.

Ticks are found specifically in longer grassy areas and in bushes. Even though many people think of them as insects, they are actually arachnids which are similar to spiders and mites. Ticks are parasites that feed off of the blood the host they attach themselves to. Those hosts can be can a human or an animal.

The biggest problem with ticks is that they are carriers of disease, specifically Lyme disease. Lyme disease can be very serious if not treated, with symptoms including a fever, loss of appetite, pain, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints and shifting lameness from one leg to another. If not treated, it can cause serious damage to your dog’s heart, nervous system and kidneys.

If you suspect that your pet has Lyme disease, take them to their vet as soon as possible. Your vet will want to do a blood panel to be sure and then start your dog on antibiotics right away as Lyme disease is a bacterial illness.

This is why it’s extremely important to do a tick check any time your dog has been outside, specifically if they have been in long grassy areas (such as the river valley) or in bushes. The most common places where ticks like to grab on to and most pet owners miss are your dogs ears, between their toes and arm pits.

What do you do if you find a tick on your dog? The safest way to remove a tick is by using a pair of fine tipped tweezers. Do not touch the tick with your bare hands as bacteria could be transmitted to you. Wear gloves or use a paper towel if you don’t have gloves. Grab the tick as close to the skin surface as possible so this reduces the chances of the head detaching. Pull the tick out with steady and even pressure. It may take a minute or two, so be patient. Once the tick has been removed, find a container and take it your vet so they can send it off to a lab to be inspected. Write down the time and place where the bite occurred. This helps vets and scientists know and understand if that tick carries Lyme disease.

Once the tick has been safely removed, it’s very important to disinfect the bite area and your hands as soon as possible.

So, what can you do to prevent your dog from getting ticks? Talk to your vet about what they recommend as there are many different options out there. There are monthly topical treatments that can be applied to your dog that are effective at keeping both ticks and fleas at bay. If your dog attends daycare, most daycare require proof that your dog is having it applied. But be cautious about using any random tick treatment you find at a store as they are not all created equal.

There are also oral medications, shampoos and even homeopathic/natural treatments. Like anything, talk to your vet to find the best course of preventative action.

Also, make sure you check yourself over if you have been out with your pet in high risk areas for ticks. You don’t want to take your chances.

Dog Harnesses: Why You Should Use One & How to Pick the Right One for Your Dog

Kaylie Belcourt

Is your dog a leash monster? Does your dog walk you instead of you walking your dog? Are you leash training? Do you have a dog who you take on walks? In all of these scenarios, a harness is a much better choice than walking with leash attached to a flat collar.

Walking with a harness distributes pressure from pulling over more of the body as opposed to concentrated pressure on your dog’s neck when walking with a leash and flat collar – which can damage your dog’s throat and neck, cause tracheal collapse or even protruding eyeballs. In addition to being physically safer, using a harness gives the walker more control over the dog, especially for reactive dogs or dogs who jump or pull, and are the best choice for breeds that are prone to respiratory problems (Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, etc.) since restriction to the neck has been decreased. Another added bonus of harness walking is that, in most cases, the leash clips to onto the harness at a point on the dog’s back, so there is less chance of the leash getting tangled in the dog’s legs and yours!

When choosing a harness for your dog, consider their size and strength, their current leash skills, as well as the overall comfort and preference for both human and dog.

There are three types of harnesses to choose from:

Front clip– Provides the best control. With the leash connecting at the chest, a front clip harness provides the greatest amount control in steering or turning your dog right around. Wherever a dog’s head goes, the body will follow. Front clip harnesses do tend to tangle a bit easier.

Back clip– The most popular choice. Back clip harnesses are easy to put on and use, however they don’t provide the best control if your dog is reactive or has not learned how to properly walk on leash.

Dual/Multi-clip– This style is becoming very popular because it provides the advantages of the both the front and back clip harnesses. Some styles have more than two clips as well as a handle to provide extra control. (Multi-clip bonus: small dogs can quickly and easily become pup suitcases, or pupcases, and that’s always entertaining.) While they tend to  be on the more on the expensive side, this is a worthwhile investment if you are leash training and can transition to an every day walker buy securing one leash to only the back clip.

Once you’ve decided on a clip style, consider how the harness goes on and off your dog. There are two options:  

Overhead- This one goes over the dog’s head and usually has fasteners at the neck and torso. If you have a patient dog who doesn’t mind things in their face, this will work just fine.

Step in- This one is a bit easier as your dog literally steps into the harness, typically just one fastener at the torso.

Fit your dog before you purchase and leave the store. A too small harness will be uncomfortable, painful and restricting; too big and your pup will slip right out. Many local pet stores, like Homes Alive, Bone & Biscuit, Tailblazers, or PetValu, have trained and educated staff who can help ensure you choose the right harness for your dog.

Once you have chosen the right harness, you will need to adjust and fit it to your dog. The straps should be snug against the body, but not tight, with just enough space to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog.

Now, who’s ready for walkies?!?! Huh?? Who’s ready for walkies!?!


Zoe’s is committed to being 100% force free. We strongly advise against the use of choke, shock, and prong collars. All of these aversive items will cause pain and damage to your pet, usually to the trachea or esophagus, sometimes to the skin and fur.

When it’s Too Cold to Walk: Indoor Enrichment Ideas for your Dog

by Lindsay Herrick-Somerset 

With the winter months comes snow, ice, cold, and, this year, a Polar Vortex. Winter can be challenging for any dog owner, especially if you have smaller breeds or any short coat breed dog that does not do well in the cold. It is even more challenging when temperatures drop so low that potty breaks are met with looks of “I have to pee in this?? You can’t be serious.”

So, how can you keep your dogs active when the temperature drastically drops?

Doggy Daycare

While it’s not the cheapest of options, if you have a dog that needs to burn off energy and does not do well in the cold weather, daycare is the best thing. Not sure how to choose the right doggy daycare, one really important thing to look at is if they are a member of the Alberta Force Free Alliance (as Zoe’s is also a member of and a strong advocate for force free training).

Unfortunately, the indoor dog park here in Edmonton closed last year. I know that was a very popular option for a lot of dog owners in the city as it was a warm and safe place to take your dog.

What if you live somewhere where doggy daycare is not available (such as a small town)? Then what?

Canine Enrichment Activities

Do you just hand feed your dogs treats? Or just put their food in a bowl?

There are now many options for canine enrichment where your dogs need to work at getting their treats or food out.

One the best options is putting a treat, peanut butter (100% natural peanut butter only) or some of their raw food in a Kong and let them work at trying to clean it out. A great challenge (and great if you have a teething puppy), is to throw it in the freezer before hand and then give it them.

Along the same line of a Kong is a Tumbler toy where you put a treat in it and your dog needs to roll it around to get the treat out. It keeps Max busy and frustrated for hours at a time (especially if you put in a treat that is hard to get out).

Another great canine enrichment option are Snuffle Mats.

So what can you put in a snuffle mat? Anything you want (except raw food because that would be a gross mess). If you feed kibble, you can put their kibble in there or you can hide some treats in there for them to dig around and find.

If you do feed a raw diet, you can also use a Slow Feeder bowl and then your dogs will need to work at getting their food out (which also works well if your dog eats their food way too fast).

The great thing is that there are many different options and games you can get for your dog from your local pet store to keep them entertained in the cold, long winter months.

While none of these options are going to replace taking your dog out for a walk, they will help your dog burn off some energy which in return, will help you keep your sanity.


Pot and Pooches

By Kim Barrett

With legalization on the horizon, pot talk is everywhere.  In addition to the effects legalization will have on people, there has also  been much discussion about the risks posed dogs to our doggy family. In a recent Facebook post, Tamarack Veterinary Clinic discussed the high occurrences of marijuana overdoses in Edmonton dogs. Coupled with increasing usage of cannabis oil in pets, vets expect recreational legalization to raise the instances of overdoses in pets even more.

As is the case in Colorado. A recent study in the state found cases of marijuana toxicity in dogs quadrupled after pot was legalized in the state. Once legalized, people have a tendency to be less careful about safety and storage. Edibles – particularly cookies, brownies, and candies – can be quite enticing to dogs. Dogs are superstars at quickly stealing food before their owner notices. (This is much less common with cats and they tend to be pickier eaters.)

What does ingestion or overdose look like in dogs? Decreased balance, “drunken sailor” walking, weakness, incontinence, disorientation, tremors and more depending on the amount eaten. In some cases it may cause seizures, coma or even death.

Pot can cause a dog to become ill very quickly as they are extremely sensitive to even small doses. If your pet ingests marijuana, bring them to the vet immediately and be honest. The more honest you are about what the animal ate, how much and when, the more your vet can help your pet. Veterinarians report that owners sometimes don’t want to admit what their dog ate due to the legality of the substance, but they need to know. The more information they have in a timely manner, the more successful they can be in combating toxicity.

Remember, dogs are very similar to toddlers. As pet parents it is our responsibility to keep our homes safe for them. Like cleaners, medications and other dangerous substances, always be mindful of keeping marijuana in a safe, non-accessible place.

Dogs overdosing on marijuana, veterinarian warns; http://www.cbc.ca/…/no…/marijuana-pets-nova-scotia-1.4467036

Hold onto your butts: Don’t let dogs get stoned on your leftover weed; https://www.popsci.com/marijuana-dogs-stoned

Marijuana making more dogs sick, veterinarians say; https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/marijuana-making-more-dogs-sic…

Feature Foster: Tink Hunt

Hi! Tink here!

I’ve been in foster care for a long time.  A VERY long time: 398 days and counting. Can you believe it? I can’t. My foster family can’t figure it out either. Sure, I am very shy and unsure when I first meet someone, which can be a tad off-putting, but once I get to know you I’m the sweetest little loaf you ever did meet. 

Just loafing around….

While I’m hanging out, waiting for my forever family to find me, I thought I’d write a little something about myself. When things don’t come you, you have to go out and find it. Amiright?!

I’ve come a long way since Zoe’s took me in. I used to be quite, uh…..unpleasant. You see, when I was much younger, I was declawed. Over the years, my paws became severely arthritic which caused me a lot of pain. The pain made me exceptionally grumpy.

If you didn’t know, declawing is a pretty awful thing to do to a cat. It’s sort of like having your fingers snipped off at the first knuckle and having to walk around on those nubs the rest of your life. Let me show you.

This is an x-ray of normal cat paw:

These are x-rays of my paws:

OUCH, right??

Thanks to the dedicated Zoe’s Cat Team and my fabulously amazing foster family, I’ve gone from crank pot to cuddle monster.


I just love love. Wherever you are, I want to be.

With the right pain medication and a home that I feel safe in, I am finally able to settle down and let my sweetness take centre stage again. All I want is love and affection!

Oh, did that “pain medication” thing freak you out? Don’t worry, it’s easy peasy! Just one squirt in my food twice a day. That’s it! Mealtime is my favourite time of day so you don’t have to fret about me not taking my medication. The cost is small; only $40 a month to fill my prescription.

I feel great now that I’m not in constant pain, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have my moments. Every once in a while new humans will come to my foster pawrents’ house and it’s very confusing for me. I get excited to meet them but then remember that I don’t have claws to defend myself if they happen to be terrible, awful people. I can get scared and a little sassy. My foster pawrents tell their visitors to politely ignore me and let me come to them. When I feel comfortable, I’ll check them out.

I will likely have trust issues for the rest of my life. As long as you respect my boundaries, we’ll get along just fine.

You can look, but don’t touch!

Despite my trust issues, I love hard with every ounce of my fluffy floofy feline being. I want to soak up every drop of attention you have to give. I come running for pets and cuddles at the slightest invitation, and I’ll always figure out a way to snuggle up to you, even if it seems like kind of a silly position to be in. PSA: I don’t believe in privacy amongst best friends. If you’re in the bathroom, you’d better believe I’ll be waiting outside the door for you. Sometimes I’ll even nap on the bath mat while my foster mom is in the tub. I don’t mind at all!

My foster pawrents say that I deserve the perfect home, and I can’t disagree. I am quite special.

If you’re looking for a cuddly pal with a whole lotta love to give and you’ve got a calm home with a warm laps for me to curl up on, this gal is your gal!

Are we the purrfect match? Fill out an application and find out!

PS: My adoption fee is only $25, which is crazy! I’m totally priceless.

First Aid…..for Pets!


By: Kim Barrett

Your dog starts choking on a toy…
Your cat jumps on a hot burner on the stove…
Your dog gets a bad bite on his head while visiting the dog park…
Your cat suddenly collapses and is not breathing…
While out for a walk your dog has a seizure…

If you found yourself and your pet in one of these situations, would you know what to do?

It is quite distressing for many of us to imagine such scary situations, let alone live through it. These situations are not planned and how you are able to respond can save your pet’s life. It’s quite obvious that you need to seek immediate medical attention from a vet but what do you do until you get there? How can you dress a wound to prevent further blood loss or cope with shock? What if you are camping in a remote area and nowhere near a vet?

The motto of Scouts “Be Prepared” is fitting advice.

Emergency situations require quick thinking and fast action. The best way to avoid panic or ‘freezing’ in any situation is to be educated and prepared. Many people are trained to provide first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to humans, but have you learned these skills for your pets?

The Edmonton Humane Society offers a pet first aid course facilitated by Walks N Wags. The 10-hour course covers everything from CPR for animals to bandaging and splinting to preventative medicine.

This past November, I attended the pet first aid course. The instructor, Leah Daoust, has had a wide range of experiences working with animals and handling medical emergencies. She was very open to answering questions and covered the material in a clear and understandable way.

This certificate course provided an opportunity to learn and practice CPR for cats and dogs and how to treat a choking animal. We practiced dressing wounds on different body parts as well as how to deal with foreign objects, such as a porcupine needle or a fishing hook. We also learned how to make a splint for broken bones and what to do if your animal is impaled with something. Leah covered wide range of medical conditions, including showing videos of an animal having a seizure and one experiencing bloat so we could see the reality of the condition on a live animal. Lastly, we learned how to assemble first aid kits and the three important places to keep them: home, car, with you.

I now feel much more confident in my ability to deal with emergency situations involving animals.

In-person training with a qualified instructor and opportunities to practice is best way to learn, however, there are many resources online for learning about first aid for pets.

Consider making learning pet first aid a goal for 2018!

Pets and Domestic Abuse

By: Kim Barrett

Most of us would probably describe our home as our sanctuary. After a long day of work or errands, coming home gives us an opportunity to destress, relax and recharge our batteries for the next day. While household activities can also keep us quite busy, overall home is a welcoming refuge. For some people, however, this is not the reality. Home is not a peaceful or safe space.

So many harrowing stories have appeared in the media about violence against women and sexual assaults. Unfortunately, Edmonton is no stranger to violence. The Edmonton police service reported 8715 events of domestic abuse in 2016. Most cases go unreported so this number is a gross underestimate of the current situation in our community.

Domestic abuse is defined as use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. It may include a single act of violence or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse through the use of assaultive and controlling behaviour. The pattern of abuse may be physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, stalking, or threats to harm children, other family members, pets, and property. Holidays can be a stressful, hectic time for many families and many organizations see an increase in number of people accessing domestic abuse services around New Years.

A 2012 study in Alberta showed more than half of abused women who have animals reported that they delayed leaving because of their animal. An abuser seeks power and control by inflicting suffering on others. A pet may be used essentially as a hostage. Thirty-six percent of abused women with animals reported that their abuser threatened or harmed their animals. In cases that involved children as well as threatened animals, 85% of women reported that the children witnessed the threat or harm to the animal.

The Alberta SPCA Pet Safe Keeping program is designed to help people in domestic abuse situations. People who are experiencing domestic violence and who need to escape their situation can contact the program to have their pets cared for temporarily. Once accepted into the program the pet can also access veterinary care.

The Companion Animal Welfare Society (CAWS) is another organization committed to helping people keep their beloved animal companions during times of transition.

We can help access or navigate these resources in the community. If spaces are not available, We may be able to assist or connect with other local rescues to ensure that help is found.

In September,  Zoe’s aided a mother and children fleeing a domestic abuse situation. While the woman was seeking safety for herself and her children, Zoe’s temporarily took care of the family’s five cats. Once the family was settled in a safe space, they were able to bring their cats to their new home. Not only was the  family relieved to be able to keep their pets safe, they were grateful to have them back. Few things compare to the love and comfort from a pet during difficult times.

For more information on the Alberta Pet Safekeeping Program, contact the Alberta SPCA at 780-447-3600 ext. 3750, call 211 and inquire at any domestic violence agency in the greater Edmonton area.

To report domestic violence, call 911 (in an emergency) or the Edmonton Police Complaint line at 780-423-4567 (#377 from a mobile device in the Edmonton area).

To talk confidentially with a social worker, call the City of Edmonton Assessment and Short-Term Counselling at 780-496-4777

For information on resources in Edmonton and across the province, call the Family Violence Info Line toll-free at 310-1818. Help is available in 170 languages, 24/7.

Edmonton Police Services. Domestic Abuse 2017. http://www.edmontonpolice.ca/…/Family…/DomesticViolence.aspx

Inside the Cruelty Connection: The Role of Animals in Decision-Making by Domestic Violence Victims in Rural Alberta. Dr. Donna Crawford and Dr. Veronika Clarke. 2012. http://www.albertaspca.org/…/publications/InsideTheCrueltyC…

The Holiday Spike in Domestic Abuse. Mattie Quinn. 2014.https://www.theatlantic.com/…/the-holiday-spike-in-…/383995/

Winter’s Evil Sisters: Hypothermia & Frostbite

By: Kim Barrett

Welcome to another cold Albertan Winter.

While it may be nice for us to sit by the fireplace, enjoying the hockey game and some hot cocoa, it’s tough to realize that many people and animals have no escape from the cold. Our winters can be relentless and our furry friends in the community are in danger when temperatures drop.

It was one of those relentlessly cold days late last month when Zoe’s co-director, Sasha, happened to find little three-month-old Mary Jane Ravena while she was working in one Zoe’s outreach communities. Sheer luck in being spotted by our Zoe’s rescue ranger saved Mary Jane’s life, she was nearly frozen. Immediately after her rescue, and thawing out in a warm car, Mary Jane climbed on her rescuers, giving kisses of gratitude and appreciation.

The day Mary Jane was found it was -25 degrees celsius with the wind chill.

Like people, animals can become hypothermic or frostbitten without adequate shelter and warmth. Hypothermia is the lowering of our core body temperature and has many symptoms. Animals more likely to be affected by hypothermia are those that are small, very young, very old and those with shorter coats. (Since Mary Jane was so small and young, she was at great risk for hypothermia.) Animals with hypothermia will be cold to touch and have a body temperature of less than 37 degrees celsius. Initially, they will shiver, but as the hypothermia becomes worse, the shivering will dissipate. The animal will feel very stiff and have a lack of energy or lethargy which will lead to unconsciousness if not treated. Immediate first aid can save lives.

Frostbite is the freezing of tissues after longer exposure to the cold and often goes along with hypothermia.  Cats and kittens are very likely to have the tips of their ears and paw pads affected. In dogs, you may see the tail, feet, ears, scrotum and teats being affected. You may also notice ice crystals or scaling of the skin. The skin may look white and waxy or even develop fluid filled blisters. Thawing frozen body parts is an extremely painful process and may need to be done under sedation by a vet. You need to carefully handle the animal and warm them up slowly. Try not to rub the body part with frostbite or burst any blisters the animal may have. The animal needs immediate veterinary care.

If you find an animal in this state, bring it inside immediately to prevent further heat loss. If the pet is wet, dry them the best you can. You can use your own body heat to warm an animal along with blankets, towels, or hot water bottles. It’s important to treat animals for shock so keep them quiet and encourage rest. A veterinary examination should be completed as soon as possible.

Luckily Mary Jane was found in time, but many others are not so lucky. Especially as the number of unowned, stray, and homeless cats grows yearly.

This year has been especially hard on Edmonton and area rescues as the number of animals needing care, the large majority being cats and kittens, has hit record numbers. Zoe’s currently has over 110 cats and kittens in foster homes with a growing waiting list and new requests daily. We hit 180 cats and kittens over the summer months. We have been stretched so financially thin that we have had to turn away many requests, too many. It breaks all our hearts to say no.

Vetting for cats and kittens is approximately $300 for straight forward cases without any medical concerns. Our adoption fees do not cover this.

How can you help? Make a donation!

There is no better holiday gift than the gift of vetting. Donate as a gift and you will receive a link to a printable postcard you can give to the recipient. You can also volunteer, collect bottles in your office or purchase food, litter, or supplies for our fosters…every bit counts. Every bit makes a difference.

Manual of Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care Medicine. Douglass K. Macintire; Kenneth J. Drobatz; Steve C. Haskins; William D. Saxon. Wiley-Blackwell, USA. 2012