The mercury is falling and winter is almost here, which means it’s the perfect time to think about how you can keep your pet safe and warm as the temperature drops.
Our four-legged friends may have a coat of fur, but this doesn’t mean they’re immune to harsh weather. Just like us, they will need a little extra TLC over the colder months.
- Small, slender, elderly or light-coated dogs might benefit from a coat or jumper when you go for walkies. Make sure it fits snugly, but is not too tight and doesn’t restrict their movement.
- Bathe your dog’s paws when you come in from walks to make sure there’s no ice or grit stuck between their toes (and check that they’re warm and dry afterwards).
- You can also protect your pup’s paws during winter walks with a good pair of dog booties.
- There’s nothing like a warm, cosy bed to help your pet stay happy and snug during cold winter days. Place it in a familiar spot that is away from drafts and use blankets for extra warmth. Putting a heated pad under those can also help soothe aching joints and relieve stiffness.
- Reflective clothing and flashing lights for dog collars will make sure you are both easily visible when you go for walkies outside of daylight hours.
- When it’s really cold outside, most cats like to stay inside and snuggle up as close to the radiator as possible, but if your feline is a winter wanderer, always make sure they have access to indoors (e.g. through a cat flap).
- If you don’t have a cat flap, it may be best to keep your cat indoors when you leave the house, just to make sure they don’t end up stuck outside as they could become extremely cold.
- As the days get darker, getting your cat a reflective collar will help make them more visible to neighbours and, if you live near a busy road, traffic.
- Cats are attracted to the taste and smell of antifreeze, but it’s highly poisonous to moggies. Be vigilant, keep bottles and containers sealed and out of reach, and make sure your cat doesn’t lick any off your windscreen. You can also buy antifreeze which contains the non-toxic propylene glycol as opposed to ethylene glycol.
- Our feline friends will seek out cosy hiding spots in winter, so always check sheds and garages before you close them up for the night; and knock loudly on your bonnet before starting the car, just in case the neighbour’s cat has snuck under for a snooze.
- During cold weather, make sure small furries have loads of hay to keep warm and snuggle up in.
- Remember small pets such as hamsters or mice should be kept away from any cold drafts.
- Outdoor rabbits are fairly resilient creatures, but it’s best to put the hutch in a sheltered spot out of the wind. A tarpaulin can also help to shield and insulate them, but if the temperature drops to an extreme level then you might want to bring them inside.
- A towel, some bubble wrap or a special insulating cover can stop their water bottle from freezing overnight.
Some pets become less active during winter, and that’s normal. Play with them a little more when indoors and provide them with plenty of toys to keep them busy. If your cat or dog is prone to putting on weight, you may also want to adjust the amount of food you give them temporarily.
Last but not least, remember that the warmth of your home can attract those unwanted guests – fleas! Keep up with flea and tick prevention through winter and your pet will not only be safe and warm, but also itch-free.