Turning back the clocks goes hand in hand with darker evenings and chillier temperatures and, just like us, many of our pets may benefit from an extra bit of TLC as the seasons change.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: “Colder weather can cause discomfort for some pets, especially those who are young, old or poorly. Thankfully, there are some simple steps we can take to help our furry friends during the winter months.
“It can be comforting to wrap up in our cosiest jumpers and jackets when the cold weather arrives so it is important to remember that our furry friends could also be feeling the chill and may need extra blankets or bedding to snuggle up in. It is also a good idea to raise their beds off the floor to keep them away from draughts. Choosing an igloo bed or creating a cosy den for your furry family member, using blankets, pillows, and bedding, will help them retain their body heat – not to mention giving them a safe haven to escape the outdoors when it is particularly cold!
“When the temperatures drop, some dogs, particularly those who are older, unwell or who have thinner fur, may find it helpful to wear a waterproof coat which will keep them warm and dry. Make sure the jacket is well fitted and non-restrictive as, otherwise, it could rub them and cause sores, or make them feel cold if the damp gets underneath.
“Fit and healthy dogs are unlikely to need extra layers unless the weather is extreme, in which case, it might be better for you and your pooch to wait a while for the weather to pass before venturing outside!
“As temperatures plummet and frost and snow set in, be sure to take extra care when walking your dog. Snow can be painful when it builds up between pets’ toes or forms clumps on their fur, while salt and grit can also irritate sensitive paw pads. It’s therefore a good idea to check furry friends’ paws when they come inside, removing any snow or ice that may be clinging to them and rinsing off salt and grit.
“You can also keep pets safe as the nights draw in by using a reflective lead or LED collar to improve visibility. Lots of winter coats have reflective strips built in so, once your pet is ready for a new jacket, you can reuse the strips from their old one and tie it to their lead instead of buying a replacement.
“Smaller pets, like rabbits and guinea pigs, can feel the cold too, even if they are used to living outside. When temperatures are likely to drop below zero, bring them inside wherever possible or move them into a shed or car-free garage to help keep them warm. If this is not possible, there are other things you can do to keep the cold at bay.
“Moving your furry friends’ hutch to a less exposed area and covering it with a breathable blanket or an old piece of carpet will shelter them from the wind, ensuring the heat stays in, while at the same time keeping their home well ventilated. Wrapping their bottle with blankets, old clothes or even bubble wrap to prevent the water from freezing will ensure your pets can have a drink whenever they need to. Remember to keep the wrapping well out of reach so they can’t eat it though! Place additional bedding in pets’ sleeping areas or pop an old blanket in their home to give them something cosy to snuggle up in.
“Always check under your car before driving away as warm engines may tempt cats to shelter next to tyres or under bonnets. While antifreeze and de-icer are commonly used to prevent our cars from freezing over, always keep them well out of paws’ reach, as they are extremely toxic to animals. If you think your pet may have ingested or come into contact with either of these substances, take them to your vet immediately.”
For more information about how to keep your pets safe and warm this winter, visit https://www.pdsa.org.uk/winter-pet-care-advice
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk