The Thunder Bay and District Humane Society says it's taking lots of calls this week because of the frigid weather.

Investigator Sarah Lauzon said many people are contacting her worried about animals being left outside.

Cats and most dogs are just as susceptible to the cold and frostbite as humans, Lauzon said.

dog in winter (her name is Gus)

A Thunder Bay and District Humane Society official says walking dogs in frigid temperatures is OK, as long as the owner factors in the dog's age, health and breed. Sometimes additional outdoor clothing is required, like this dog's booties. (Jody Porter/CBC)

“Some people are in the know, and some aren't,” she said. “Our first step is education. So if we get a call of a pet being left out without shelter, or for long periods, then we'll go and talk to the dog owner or cat owner.”

Despite such a high volume of calls this week, as of Tuesday, she hasn't had to issue any charges, Lauzon added.

Cats are most vulnerable to the cold on the tips of their ears and their tails. Short-haired dogs, puppies, or older dogs are also at risk.

In terms of walking dogs in below-seasonal conditions, Lauzon said it depends on the animal. Factors like its age, health, and breed, should be taken into consideration.
"A good healthy husky might be able to do a decent walk at this time, [while] something smaller with shorter hair, [can be walked] maybe 5-10 minutes with a warm coat on and booties on or something like that,” she said.

“People need to be really, really cautious. If they're cold outside, their pet likely is too."

Lauzon noted she's also taking more call this year about horses that don’t have adequate shelter. Horses need a three-sided shelter, or windbreak, and liquid water available around the clock, she said.