The winter season can be challenging with a pet, so we’ve pulled together some tips to keep both you and your furry companions happy and safe during the colder months.
Even though your pet has a thick layer of fur they will still feel the cold, and some breeds will feel it more than others. Think of it this way: if you’re all wrapped up in a big coat and still feel cold, then the likelihood is that your pet does too!
Keep your cat inside during extreme weather conditions such as snow or sub-zero temperatures. Consider installing a microchip cat flap so that your cat can come in whenever it likes during the coldest spells.
If you cannot install a cat flap or if you are caring for any feral cats, invest in a cat kennel for your garden, which are designed to keep cats extra cosy in cold weather. Place plenty of blankets inside, and perhaps even a microwaveable heat pad as that will help to keep them warm for hours at a time. Delay outdoor water bowls from freezing over by placing a small ball in the bowl which makes it harder for ice to form.
Remember that cats – especially strays – will also have a higher need for food throughout the winter. Feral cats may find it harder to find prey to eat, and will be using more calories to simply keep warm.
Keep your dog on a lead around frozen ice (ponds, lakes, canals etc) to stop them walking on it and falling through.
After walks in the snow or rain, remove any snow clumps from your dog with warm water, and make sure they are thoroughly dried off so they don’t get cold. Pay particular attention to paws, especially if your dog has been walking on salt grit as this can cause irritation on their pads. Try to prevent your dog from ingesting any salt grit as this can cause an upset stomach.
Similarly, ingesting antifreeze is one of the most common forms of poisoning in pets, and even the smallest amount can cause kidney failure and death in both cats and dogs. Make sure to keep all bottles tightly sealed and out of reach of your pet, and keep animals away from areas they could encounter chemicals – such as driveways and garages.
Inside, make sure your dog’s bed is soft, comfortable and of an appropriate material to keep them warm, and is not placed near any cold drafts.