A pets guide to surviving the winter

Winter is a fun time for both pets and owners, here is some advice to keep you prepared for the potential hazards.

Cats

  • Cats like to seek warm places out check your car before you turn the engine on it may be a cat has found somewhere inviting; driving the car could seriously injure a cat.
  • Provide a litter tray indoors in extremely cold temperature or snow your cat may not want to go to the toilet outside.
  • Make sure your cat is fitted with a microchip and the details are kept up to date, cats may wander further than usual if they are looking for somewhere warm.
  • Provide somewhere warm for your cat to sleep whether they are an indoor or outdoor cat and in extreme temperature keep them indoors, cats that aren’t used to the cold are prone to developing hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Christmas plants such as poinsettia and lilies are poisonous to cats, avoid having these plants around your cats.

Dogs

  • Avoid leaving your dog outside unattended, dogs generally spend a lot of time indoors and sudden temperature drops that they aren’t used to mean they are at risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Long-coated breeds may need to keep their paws trimmed short to prevent painful ice balls forming between the toes and pads.
  • short-coated breeds may need a coat or a jumper when they go outside as they struggle to cope with the cold.
  • Watch your dog when they are walking if they start lifting paws they made be cold and investing in a pair of doggy boots may help.
  • Salted and gritted pavements can cause irritation to paws, washing them after walks can help prevent this.
  • If your pet is less active during the winter months remember to cut back the food accordingly.
  • Keep your dog on a lead around frozen lakes and ponds and avoid temptation to run after your dog onto them, dogs are mostly good swimmers and more likely to get themselves out of trouble.
  • When out walking where bright and reflective clothing, this includes your dog too! This helps motorists and pedestrians to see you.
  • Keep human food out of reach, many Christmas items are very poisonous to dogs this can include chocolate, raisins and onions.

Rabbits and guinea pigs

  • Position hutches somewhere sheltered so the rain, wind and snow can’t blow in, if the weather is particularly bad bring the inside to unused garages or sheds. Guinea pigs ideally should be kept indoors for the winter months.
  • Keep an eye on water bottles regularly ice can form in the bottle or the ball, bottle covers can be purchased to help prevent this.
  • Wrap hutches in blankets and provide extra straw bedding to help keep them warm.
  • Provide extra food as cold pets eat more calories, good quality hay is always a good choice.
  • Allow your pet’s access to their run still, preferably during the warmest parts of the day.
  • Keep your hutch secure and sturdy, animals in hutches make easy prey for foxes and badger particularly during the winter months.