Winter has arrived! But are you and your pets ready for the long cold months ahead? As pet owners, we have a responsibility to keep our little fur balls warm and healthy during the winter. Just as you need to watch out for dehydration and overheating in the summer, the winter brings its own risks to look out for such as hypothermia, stiff joints and dangerous deicing salts on the roads and pavements.
Take a look through our simple guide to winter pet care so you and your pets can stay warm, healthy and happy whatever the British weather throws at us.
Keeping warm in winter is especially important for arthritic pets. If your pet sleeps in a colder part of the house or suffers from stiff joints, they’ll benefit from a warm heat pad in their bed at night. Nest beds are often the best shape for pets that feel the cold as they can snuggle against the sides and keep out cold drafts.
Never, ever leave your pet in a car in freezing temperatures as hypothermia can set in very rapidly. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, lethargy, shallow breathing and a slow heart rate. Young pets and elderly pets are most at risk so keep a watchful eye out for the signs and if you suspect your pet has hypothermia call your vet immediately for advice.
If your dog is a fine coated breed or has little body fat they’ll appreciate an extra layer on very cold days. Many of our winter dog coats come with fleecy linings to keep breeds such as whippets or greyhounds toasty warm.
Winter paw care
Watch out for road salt as you walk your dog as the chemicals in deicer salts can cause burns on the paw pad and will also be harmful to pets if licked off afterwards. Leave a bowl of water by your back door so you can quickly rinse off paws after a walk or you can get your dog some walking boots if you think this is going to be a problem in your area.
If you are walking through snow, trimming the hair between your pet’s toes helps to prevent the build-up of snow and ice balls which can cause a lot of discomfort during long walks. The cold and ice can cause drying out of paws so keep a tube of paw cream handy in your first aid kit.
Staying safe outdoors
With the limited daylight hours at this time of year hi-viz gear is essential for pets who will be out and about after dark. Outdoor cats, especially dark coloured ones, should always wear a collar with reflective fabric so they can be spotted by motorists. There are plenty of hi-viz dog products available too, everything from flashing pendants to neon yellow dog coats.
Danger: Keep your dog on the lead near frozen rivers, ponds or lakes, especially if he loves water and his recall is not 100%. Never try to jump in after your dog if he falls through thin ice into water. He may well be able to find his own way out and you will be putting your life at risk if you get stuck in the freezing water too.