Winter Pet Advice

PDSA vets provide top tips for keeping pets happy

With shorter and darker days here, PDSA vets are urging pet owners to start thinking about how they can keep their pets happy and healthy over the winter months ahead.

PDSA Vet Lynne James said: “With the cold and dark months ahead there are some important things you can do to make sure your pets are happy, cosy and content this winter.”

PDSA’s winter tips for dogs and cats

  • Make sure they always have access to warmth and shelter – never leave them outside for long periods.
  • A suitable waterproof coat can help keep dogs dry, and they’re especially good for pets that are very young or old, are sick, or have very thin fur.
  • Dogs will still need daily walks and cats may still want to go outside, but keep these excursions short and frequent, rather than longer periods outdoors. However, don’t force pets to go outside if they don’t want to.
  • Never leave pets in cars, caravans or unheated conservatories, as temperatures can quickly plummet, risking hypothermia.
  • After walkies, towel-dry them straight away if they get wet.
  • Check pets’ paws regularly and clean any build-up of salt, grit or dirt from them, as this can be painful.
  • Wear a high visibility jacket yourself for walks on dark nights, and use a high-vis or LED collar and a hi-vis dog jacket to make walking near roads safer.
  • If you spot your pet shivering, bring them into the warmth straight away. Hypothermia can develop quickly and can be fatal if not treated.

Smaller pets

  • Prepare to move guinea pigs and rabbits to a warm, dry and sheltered spot – a shed or car-free garage is ideal. However, they too can get very cold, so you may need an electric heater to keep the area warm. They will still need sunlight and a run for exercise and stimulation.
  • Provide extra bedding for warmth, and consider covering the hutch with a blanket to keep out the cold. Make sure they still have good air flow though, and the blanket is out of reach of nibbles!
  • Make sure they have plenty of good quality feeding hay – this is separate to their bedding and important if they no longer have daily access to grass.
  • Move small animal cages away from windows – hamsters, gerbils and other small rodents can be susceptible to cold draughts, (hamsters especially can go into torpor or a full hibernation).
  • In freezing temperatures, check water dishes and bottles twice daily to ensure they haven’t frozen. Always check water runs freely as nozzles can freeze before the rest of the bottle.

For more advice on taking care of your pet this winter, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/winterhealth

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information: www.pdsa.org.uk/appeal.

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