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

Human Foods and Your Pets

By Lauren Erhardt

High-quality pet food is always the best choice for your pets, however, there are some human foods that are safe for your cats or dogs:

  • Cooked lean meat, eggs, and fish
  • Cheese
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables (without seeds or pits)
  • Cooked rice or pasta

Be cautious about feeding your cats or dogs dairy products as they can be lactose intolerant. 

Toxic foods for dogs and cats:

  • Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum and candy 
  • Avocado (contains a toxin called a persin)
  • Alcohol
  • Onions, chives, and garlic (can lead to anemia)
  • Coffee, tea, and other caffeine (more potent and poisonous)
  • Grapes and raisins (can cause acute kidney injury and a lack of urine production)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Chocolate (due to the toxin theobromine)
  • Fat trimmings and bones (can cause pancreatitis and potential digestive tract injuries)
  • Fruit seeds/ pits (contain poisons)
  • Raw eggs, meat, or fish (can contain bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli)
  • Sugary foods and drinks
  • Yeast dough (intestinal blockages)
  • Raw potatoes (contain the poison solanine)
  • Your medicine

While dogs can eat peanut butter (check the ingredients for xylitol), it is not recommended for cats.

If your pet does happen to eat something it shouldn’t, please contact your veterinarian or any of the contact numbers below:

Pet Poison Helpline: 1-800-213-6680 (

Animal Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435 (

Emergency 24-hour Vets in Edmonton:

Guardian Veterinary Centre
Address: 5620 99 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1V2
Phone: (780) 436-5880

Address: 12831 97 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5E 4C2
Phone:(780) 423-9111

Zoe’s Annual Compost Fundraiser!

It’s that time of year again!! (Though you wouldn’t know it to look outside…)

Preorders will be accepted until Friday, May 12 at 5 pm. There will be a limited amount of compost available for purchase on site.

Happy growing!

The blocked stops here!

Male cats are prone to being blocked which can be a life or death situation. A blocked cat could only take the matter of days before he passes away. So how do you prevent it from happening in the first place?
  • Grain free, no by product diet. Grains seems to be the worst offender of blocked cats as it takes away moisture. In fact if you can do a wet food only diet (that is grain free, no by products) that would be best or at least supplement it into your cats diet.
  • Like people if they don’t use the washroom enough it can cause UTI’s which can lead to further issues. Make sure that there are equal number of litter boxes to cats plus one extra around the house and that it is cleaned enough to their liking so they use it regularly.
  • Overweight cats can be prone to having these issues as well. So it is very important to make sure your cats are at a healthy weight. Some cats should not be free fed as they tend to not know when enough is enough and will eat way more then they should so regulated diets are a must for them.
  • Fresh water or water fountains are extremely important. Cats do not drink enough water mostly due to in the wild cats get their water from their prey so on a dry food diet only they don’t ever get enough water. By adding the water fountain it promotes cats to drink more, or by having fresh water a cat will be more inclined to drink. You could even put a little bit of water in the dry food to help give your cat more water intake.

What are the signs of a blocked cat?

  • Straining to urinate.
  • Peeing more frequently.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Peeing in places that is not the litter box.
  • Crying out in pain while peeing.

It is extremely important that if you see the signs to get your cat to a vet immediately. If money is tight contact various vets to see what their pricing is and if they are willing to do payment plans. But as always if you generally don’t have thousands of dollars to use for vetting, please get  pet insurance so you never have to deal with the huge amount of stress of not having the money to make your best friend feel better.

Brachycephalic Syndrome in Dogs

by Lauren Erhardt

Brachycephalic: short headed

You may wonder why some dogs such as Pekingese, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers pant and snore a lot.  Additionally, if you’re thinking of adopting one of these kinds of dogs you may wish to be aware of genetic issues so you can give them the kind of care and attention they need.  These issues are caused by Brachycephalic Syndrome which causes obstructive breathing due to the shape of the head, muzzle or throat.  In short, these dogs have shortened skulls compared to other breeds.  When dogs are selectively bred to produce a flat “cute” face, genetic issues like these may result.  Dogs with longer muzzles will have  fewer issues because they can breathe easier.   

Problems suffered by Pugs due to Brachycephalic Syndrome:

  • Serious breathing difficulties
  • High blood pressure (info link)
  • Fainting or collapsing due to a lack of oxygen
  • Highly disrupted sleep
  • Excessive flatulence due to excessive gulping and swallowing of air to try to overcome their breathing difficulties

More information:                      

If you have a dog with this syndrome, you should always check with your vet, however, some steps you can take to help make him/her more comfortable include ensuring your dog is not overweight as this can exacerbate the symptoms,  and not over exercising your dog.

Three Simple Ways to Spread the Love to Rescue Animals

Happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s not forget about our four-legged friends on this day of love! Here are three simple ways to spread the love to rescue animals that won’t cost you a dime.

ONE: Spread the love by sharing an adoptable animal’s profile. The more exposure the animal gets, the more likely they are to find their loving forever home. We truly appreciate every like, share, and comment. Once the animal is adopted, a spot is freed up in a foster home for another animal in need. You can find our adoptable animals’ profiles here.

TWO: Volunteer your time! Did you know that Zoe’s is 100% volunteer run? You do not have to commit a certain amount of hours per week or month to volunteer to make a positive impact. Instead, with Zoe’s, you can jump in when you are available. We are always looking for help with fundraising, event organizing, transporting animals and supplies, photography, blogging and of course… fostering! Learn more about volunteering here.

THREE: Share the message to spay and neuter! Zoe’s does everything in our power to help to end the cycle of homeless animals including ensuring that every single adopted animal is either spayed or neutered before the adoption is finalized. There are so many deserving animals in local rescues, and so many waiting to come into care. Help to reduce the population of stray and unwanted animals by reminding people to spay and neuter their pets. You can find a list of vets that we like to work with here. In addition, the Edmonton Humane Society offers a great program for those with pets that cannot afford to spay and neuter. Check out their PALS program here.


Foster of the Week: Reepacheep


I’m Reepacheep, but I prefer to be called Henry. Henry Rollengardner.

I’m a chinchilla! (I don’t know why I need to announce that. Maybe because chinchilla is fun to say? Chinchilla! Chinchilla! Chinchilla!)

I came to Zoe’s because my previous home was too, too busy and it stressed me out. I don’t mind a little hustle or small bits of bustle, but I do need my rest. Chinchillas are nocturnal, which can be a bit of a challenge for people. They are awake when I want to sleep and when they want to sleep, I want to play! The easiest way to handle this is to have my enclosure away from high-traffic areas in the home. That way I can be in the busy parts of the house when I want to play, but also have quiet when I want to sleep. Plus my nighttime antics won’t disturb you while you’re sleeping.

I’ve been a little skittish when it comes to human contact. Smaller animals tend to take longer to form a bond and trust their humans. My foster family has been patiently and slowly working to boost my confidence and help me become more comfortable with handling. I’m still unsure about being picked up, but I am starting to love pets and scratches. I have a sweet spot and if you find it, I will coo and smile in delight! I LOVE to be out of my enclosure to run and explore and chase my humans. Especially when they have treats. Be sure to keep a close eye on me when I am loose, though, I can be mischevious and chewy.

I may be partial, but chinchillas make great companion animals! We are generally quiet and low-maintenance, but also sweet and silly and fun. The most important part of being a chinchilla parent is providing an appropriate environment, like making sure there are places to tuck in and hide as well as chinchilla exercise equipment like a running wheel and climbing structures.

If your home sounds like a great home for me, and you’re looking to add some fun and silliness to your life, visit my bio and apply to adopt me!

Foster of the Week: Gilligan Katt


Hey there! I’m Gilligan!

Do you like to play? I do!! My favourite things to play with are string toys and wand toys. Anything I can chase, pounce, and bat!

I like people too. They’re wonderful! I can be a bit demanding when I want affection from my people. Ok, a lot demanding. But I love to cuddle! I love pets and scratches and belly rubs. I have this spot that I just LOVE to be scratched. When my people scratch that spot, I can’t help but flop over in absolute bliss.

I like other animals, too. Cats, dogs, kids…. I like them all! What’s that? Kids aren’t animals?? Uh….if you say so…. Whatever they are, I like them!

I’m an adventurer at heart. I love exploring and climbing. I especially like sneaking into the pantry and the cupboards. Peek-a-boo!! I like water, too. I’m always hanging out in the sink or the bathtub. My foster family says I am a curious cat who always makes them laugh. They’re so sweet.

I may not look it, but I am still a kitten. Full of energy and silliness. I am also a perfect gentleman. Quiet and affectionate.

You won’t find a cat much better than me! I am well-rounded, lovable, fun and dashingly handsome…. My ideal home would be full of things to love – adults, kids, cats and dogs, the more the merrier! My home should also have lots of places and spaces for me to explore, plus at least a few sinks and a spacious bathtub. Also well-stocked with soft and cozy blankets. After a day of playing and exploring, I love to curl up in a warm lap covered with a soft blanket.

My sisters have found their forever home, it’s my turn! If your home is lacking a purrrrfect gentleman, I am your cat! Visit my bio and apply to adopt me!

Foster of the Week: Morgan

Hi! Morgan here again!

How have you been since we last chatted? I’ve been great! I’ve been in this foster home for about four or five months and I love it! I have three foster siblings, that weirdo behind me is one of them. Mickey. He’s good stuff. I’m way in love with my foster sister, Minnie. We snuggle all the time, she lets me nibble her toes. She’s the sweetest girl I’ve ever met. And then there’s Habib. Silly Habib…..

I can’t imagine life without doggy siblings. Not only because I enjoy their company, but because I get very scared and nervous (and LOUD) when I am alone.

A few other things I don’t like:

Cats. I swear they taunt and tease me because they know I can’t see them. But I can smell them. And I can CHASE them!
Squirrels. They are conspiring with the cats, I know it.

You know, I think that’s it. I’m a very happy guy! Always smiling and enjoying life. I like people a lot. I like being around people, I like cuddling with people, I like the food people eat….. If you’re looking for a solid Netflix (and snack) and chill companion, I am your guy.

It’s impossible to have a bad day when I’m around. I have that sort of personality that turns the frowniest of frowns upside down. I excel at snuggling, too. Everyone knows the best remedy for grouchiness is a good dog, you won’t find a dog better than me!

Let’s meet in person. Visit my bio, send in an application and come on over!

A new adoption, what to expect in the first month.

Did you know that first month is the hardest for any newly adopted animal?

Some things you can possibly expect to deal with the first month:

  • Separation anxiety: It is very common especially more so with dogs/puppies but can happen in cats.
  • House training/litter box issues: Dogs/puppies have to relearn a new routine which can be different than what they are used to. It can also take awhile for the new owner to tell the telltale signs of them having to pee. For cats, some like certain litter or litter box styles, and placement is equally important. It is actually a good idea to see if you can take some used litter from the foster home to place into the new litter box. Cats are all about the smell so by placing the litter in the new litter box the cat will know that that is the place they should go in.
  • Aggression/fear of resident pets: Proper introductions is very important not just for dogs but for cats too. Just because your cat or dog had a previous friend it doesn’t mean this new pet will become their instant best friend. Like people, not everyone gets along or sometimes it takes quite awhile to adjust. This is why proper slow introductions are important for cats, it can take months for cats to become friends or at least put up with each other so expect to take at least a week possibly more for a cat/kitten to be in a sanctuary room.
  • Runners: The first week has the highest chance of pets escaping, dogs especially that is why some suggest not taking them for a walk until after the first week or have two leashes on the dog a harness and a leash just in case the dog slips one you will still have the second.
  • Shyness: Let’s face it, it’s scary to go to any new place but when you add in other pets, different people, and a busy household it can be very overwhelming. So expect at least two weeks to be best able to assess their personality.
  • Retraining: Even if a dog or cat is said to be perfect everyone’s idea of perfect can be different. Some people are ok with a dog on the couch while others not so much likewise with a cat on the table. So expect to have to train the new animal to have to learn the new house rules.
  • Unsure/scared/aggressive to the kids: Even if a foster home has kids, like resident pets, everyone is different. Some kids can be cat/dog savvy and know body language really well and know not to push an animal too far or be quieter in the home while others not so much. So especially for the first week, you want your kids to only be around the new pet under supervision as well make an effort to teach them how to be gentle and to understand warning cues. 

It’s also very important to set up your new puppy or kitten for success. So don’t let them get away with something you won’t find as cute when they are much older. Even kittens can be trained, some people thinks cats can’t be but they know that they can easily train us to please them, that’s how smart they are.

It will take at least a month for any new animal to settle into a household sometimes even more. Set them up for success by researching as much as possible beforehand in regards to training, and be honest with what exactly you are looking for, what you can handle medically/behaviorally, and if your resident pet(s) even want a new friend. Don’t get a pet just because it’s cute as it is a 10-20 year commitment that requires a lot of work and training to ensure they become a great part of the family. If you aren’t sure of any allergies in the family, bring the entire family to a friend’s or family members place to spend quite a bit of time with their dogs/cats to assess any allergies before adopting. Getting a new family member can be the best thing you ever do but it’s best to not have expectations that just aren’t fair for any new animal to live up to so quickly.