Estonian winter is currently exhibiting its rougher traits and the weather service forecasts bitter colds to last at least to the end of the week. The Animal Rescue Group hereby implores the owners of dogs that live outdoors in the yard to examine their pet’s doghouse with an exceedingly critical eye and take all possible measures to make sure the animal is indeed nice and warm in its kennel. 

Short haired dogs and cats are especially vulnerable to severe colds and we recommend not letting such pets venture outside currently at all. During walks, owners must keep an eye on the animals’ behavior – should your pet be shivering, exhibit nervous behavior, or lift up its paws one at a time it is high time to get back inside. Car owners are asked to check under their vehicle’s hood before starting the car to make sure cats have not squeezed in there looking for a warm place.  

“Pups and old dogs cannot maintain their body temperature very well,” said Katrin Lehtveer, Chief Coordinator of the Animal Rescue Group’s volunteer work, adding that sick dogs as well fall into a risk group that demands elevated attention.  “In addition to severe temperature, a dog’s wellbeing during the cold season depends on a number of factors, such as peculiarities of a particular dog’s fur,  wind, humidity, nutrition, and activity levels and pet owners must take all these factor into account to ensure for their pets conditions as normal as possible!“

Heiki Valner, leader of the Animal Rescue Group, says that dogs left outdoors on a short leash and forced to live in a doghouse that is barely standing now find themselves in truly dire straits. “F

ixed requirements applicable to doghouses were enforced a while ago in Estonia, yet, nevertheless, thousands of dogs still live in conditions suited to the penultimate century. The Veterinary and Food Board doesn’t have the resources required to respond to call operatively and coming across a dog that is freezing, my advice is to contact voluntary non-profit associations rather than state officials!”

“Farm animals must be provided with shelter from prevalent weather conditions and a keen eye should be kept on their state of health as well,” explained Riina Pernau, a long-term cattle farmer who coordinates volunteer work on the islands of Saaremaa and Muhumaa. “As an animal rescuer I can tell you with certainty that many animal owners pay no attention to this and there are issues even with ensuring feed, let alone providing unfrozen water!”

“We do not recommend feeding waterfowls as there is still plenty of open water. Small birds and songbirds, however, such as sparrows, tits, finches, and bullfinches can and, indeed, should be fed – keep in mind that once you start providing feed for these birds, make very sure to keep it up until spring!” cautions Karin Põldoja, Head of Volunteers in Harju County, explaining that birds gather in habitual locations to wait for food and if food is then not provided, they will not gain the energy they require and may certainly perish during the dark and cold night.