Looking after your pets in the winter

With winter just around the corner, the PDSA (our chosen charity of the year) have put together some tips on how to keep pets happy and healthy during the colder months.

Dog winter care

Be seen and not hurt

Dogs need regular outdoor exercise. Choose daylight hours in winter whenever possible. At PDSA, we recommend you follow these rules if you have to walk your dog in the dark:

  • Keep your dog on a lead unless in a totally traffic-free area.
  • Wear reflective clothing and carry a torch.
  • Get your dog a glowing/ flashing collar and lead and other safety devices to aid visibility, particularly if your dog is dark haired

Gearing up for winter

If you walk your dog in the snow, or when the temperature is below freezing, make sure you...

  • Towel dry your dog as soon as you get home or use a hairdryer on a low setting held some distance away. Keep the hairdryer moving as you would for yourself.
  • Consider getting a winter coat for dogs with thin, fine hair, or those that are getting older, or those suffering with joint problems.
  • Prevent snowballs from forming by trimming the hair between your dog’s toes or training it to wear doggy boots.

Don’t let any your dog stay outside in freezing temperatures for a lengthy period without access to shelter and warmth.

Never leave a pet in a car. Even a few minutes in a cold car can cause hypothermia.

Cat winter care

Keep your cat in, but keep it active

Ideally, keep your cat in at night to reduce the risk of road traffic accidents. Stop it becoming a bored couch potato by keeping it active with games you can get involved in...

  • Introduce new games and toys to exercise your cat’s body and mind.
  • Give them activity centres, safe cat mobiles and scratching posts as winter diversions.
  • Hide a favourite toy and encourage your cat to seek it out.

Small furries winter care

Wrap up small pets

Small furries really feel the cold, so here’s how to give them a warm winter welcome....

  • Bring them indoors or move their outdoor hutch to a shed or car-free garage, remember that exhaust fumes can be fatal to your furry friend.
  • Ensure the hutch is dry, well ventilated and has extra warm bedding.
  • Change bedding at least twice a week.

Watch out for hypothermia

Hypothermia can occur after just a few minutes in freezing temperatures and can kill. Due to their smaller size, our pets are even more at risk than we are, so prevention is always better than cure:

  • Don’t let any your pets stay outside in freezing temperatures for a lengthy period without access to shelter and warmth.
  • Give a warm dog coat in colder weather if your dog is going to be susceptible.
  • Prevent snowballs from forming by trimming the hair between your dog’s toes or training it to wear doggy boots

What to do if you suspect hypothermia

Act quickly and correctly – it could save your pet’s life:

  • Immediately remove your pet from the cold. Take them into warm, but not hot, surroundings: warming up too quickly can be harmful.
  • Call your vet and follow their advice.
  • Dry them gently with a towel if they are wet.
  • Gradually raise your pet’s body temperature:
  • Either use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. Or use a hair dryer on a low heat, keep it a moving and hold it at a distance from your pet’s fur, as you would for yourself.
  • Your vet will probably advise bringing your pet in for an appointment. It’s important to do this, even if your pet seems to have recovered.