Keeping your pets warm this winter
Although winter can be a fun time for some pets, with crips frosty mornings and lots of snuggling indoors close to a fire or radiator, for some breeds it can be tough - and sometimes problems aren't always easy to spot. So this week we've compiled a list highlighting some wintery hazards to avoid, along with some top tips to help you to keep your cat or dog warm, happy and safe during the winter months.
Winter survival tips for cats
Whilst most cats prefer to stay snuggled up indoors during the winter months, they will still need to venture outside and if you cat is the outdoorsy type then it is important to make sure they can get back indoors again or they that have a warm safe place where they can go for a while if they get locked out.
If it snows heavily, your cat flap may become blocked, so check it regularly to make sure that there is a clear path to the flap and that your cat can get in and out easily. Pet cats can get frostbite or hypothermia if they are shut out for too long but they will generally look for somewhere warm to go if they can't get back in.
If your cat does get shut outdoors they may go somewhere they shouldn’t to keep warm such as a neighbour's shed or even curled up on a car engine so it is important to make sure they are safe and that they don’t get trapped somewhere with no food or water. Also make sure that they are microchipped so that they can be traced back to you easily if they do get lost.
Winter survival tips for dogs
Don’t leave your dog outside unattended if it is cold and make sure they don’t get shut outside in the cold if you let them out into your garden for a pee. Like cats, dogs can easily develop frostbite or hypothermia if they are exposed to the cold for a prolonged period of time.
Of course if you have a husky or a malamute then it's not so much of a worry, but some short-coated breeds are more susceptible to the cold. For example Chihuahuas, Dobermans and Greyhounds can get very cold, very quickly so consider investing in a coat for walks and make sure you keep an eye on them to see if they are shaking or appear cold. Try not to hang about on walks and keep moving if possible.
If your dog starts lifting up their paws, whining or stopping, their feet may be too cold so be sure to watch for any signs of this and plan your walks so you are not walking through frozen puddles or deep snow if your dog is unlikely to be unable to cope with extreme temperatures.
If you have a shaggier breed, you may find that they form ‘ice balls’ in the fur around their paw pads. These can build up between their toes on walks and become really painful. Try trimming the hair around your dogs pads and toes to prevent any build up. You may also find if the pavements or roads have been gritted that the salt can really irritate their pads too, so make sure you rinse their paws after your walk if you have been walling over grit and salt.
Frozen lakes and ponds may look pretty but don’t be tempted to walk on them with your dog – make sure you keep them on a lead near frozen water and if they do run onto a frozen lake, don’t be tempted to go after them, stay calm and call them back with a toy or a treat. Sometimes just running in the opposite direction is enough to get your dog to return to you.
Although cold weather can be hazardous, this doesn’t mean you should stop going out with your dog completely. They need to go out every day even if it’s raining heavily, you just need to make sure that both of you are dressed for the occasion. If you find that your walks are a little shorter during the winter, and your dog is less active, then cut back on their food or they may start to gain weight.
Luckily the evenings have started to get brighter again now, but it is important to be safe and seen on your walks so wear bright reflective clothing on dull days and dark evenings and mornings. You can also get high vis accessories, coats and lights for your dog too.
What are your top tips for keeping you pets safe in winter? We’d love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments section below.