The Ontario SPCA urges pet parents to use caution around waterways


Stouffville, ON (Jan. 16, 2024) – With unseasonably mild temperatures this winter, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is urging pet parents to use caution around bodies of water, which may not be safely frozen.

Every year, incidents occur involving dogs and open water or thin ice, resulting in injuries or even tragic outcomes. To help keep pets safe, the Ontario SPCA offers these tips:

Use a leash – Always keep your dog on a leash near bodies of open water or thin ice. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, icy conditions and frigid water can prove deadly. Dogs living on properties with lakes, rivers or ponds should be supervised while outdoors to ensure they don’t wander onto the ice.
Check ice conditions – Before venturing onto any frozen surface, check the thickness of the ice. Avoid slushy, thawed, recently refrozen ice, or ice near moving water, as they may be unsafe. Avoid going on ice after dark when it’s more difficult to spot weak ice or open water.
Know the area – Be aware of potential hazards. Avoid areas with fast-flowing water, as currents can weaken ice. Slippery banks leading to the water can also be hazardous.
Carry emergency gear – Be cautious and avoid putting yourself at risk if trying to rescue a pet. Equip yourself with safety gear, such as a rope and safety ice picks, to assist in the event of an emergency. Carry a cell phone for quick access to emergency services.
Avoid the ice – Avoid areas where your dog may venture onto the ice. Find areas for your dog to play or exercise that are away from open water or thin ice so they aren’t tempted to venture out.


By following these guidelines, pet parents can help reduce the risk of accidents and ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience. The Ontario SPCA remains committed to promoting responsible pet guardianship and providing resources to help keep pets safe and healthy.

For more winter pet safety tips, visit


Media Contact

Media Relations

Ontario SPCA and Humane Society

905-898-7122 x 375


The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society 

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is a registered charity that has been changing the lives of animals for over 150 years. The Society provides care, comfort and compassion to animals in need in communities across Ontario. It values all animals and advocates to treat them with respect and kindness. The Society strives to keep pets and families together and do so through a variety of community support services, such as sheltering and adoptions, including emergency sheltering, feral cat management programs, animal transfers, food distribution, humane education, animal advocacy, and spay/neuter services.

The Ontario SPCA does not receive annual government funding and relies on donations to provide programs and services to help animals in need. To learn more, or to donate, visit Charitable Business # 88969-1044-RR0002.

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society Provincial Office sits on the traditional territory of the Wendat, the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississaugas of Scugog, Hiawatha and Alderville First Nations and the Métis Nation. This territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. The treaties that were signed for this particular parcel of land are collectively referred to as the Williams Treaties of 1923

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