Toronto Veterinarians - Pet Wellness Network

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Contact Willowdale Animal Hospital

Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

About every other weekend my wife and I head up North to our cottage in the Kawarthas. It’s the perfect weekend getaway, the snow, the silence, the crackling fireplace and some nice red wine – What could be better? Our dogs, love it up there too. They have plenty of open space to run around and no traffic to beware of. The cottage is our home away from home.


















Our place is right on the water (another bonus!), which is great in the summer time because our pooches love to swim. In the winter and in the early spring this can make things a little dangerous. It can be hard to see cracks or tell where the ice is thin when the lake is covered in snow. To make things worse, ice that may have been rock solid in the winter can be very deceptive come spring.  I hear this is a big issue in the city too, especially for those who live near the lake or a creek or river. In our case, both my wife and I have done our due diligence and researched what to do, heaven forbid, if one of our dogs were to fall in.

Despite your urge (and I know you would have it—I would too) to jump in after your dog, this is the last and perhaps the worst thing you could do. Not only are the chances of you rescuing your dog very slim, but now you have put yourself in danger. A hypothermic, drowning owner does nothing to help your dog. If this doesn’t hit the mark with you, try this small exercise in logic. If the ice was not thick enough to hold your dog, whose weight is evenly distributed across four limbs, what makes you think it will be strong to hold you up? Right, that’s what I thought.

So what are you supposed to do? You have two options at this point. You could call your local fire rescue and see if they rescue dogs, it might be best to know this before hand and program the number into your mobile phone, just in case. Or you could coax your pup to climb out on its own. Amazing but true, your dog will realize the dangerous situation and immediately work to get himself out of it. Their ability to swim and dig into the ice with their claws actually makes this easier to do than one would think.


Once out of the water it is important to do everything in your power to get your dog warm and dry as fast as possible. Wrap him in warm towels and blankets and take him to the nearest animal hospital straight away. There your vet will check for frostbite and hypothermia and will be able to monitor his recovery over night if needed.  We live in East Toronto and we go to Beaches Animal Hospital when we’re in not at the cottage. It is the closest to our home and offers extended hours, because emergencies don’t usually happen from 9-5 in my experience.

I’m big on preventing problems before they occur. I guess I’m old fashioned that way. So to avoid these types of scenarios, my wife and I have made it our policy to keep the dogs off the ice. No matter the time of year, no matter if other people are on it or not, we just STAY OFF. I always say it’s better to be safe than sorry, but that’s just me.  Enjoy your outdoor time in the spring but remember, safety first!




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