As we shiver into the coldest months of the year it’s good to remember some breeds of pet are better at coping with the winter chill than others, so we’ve put together 6 top tips on how to keep your furry friends safe and well this winter.
Even though it's cold and wet, and in some states, very cold, our pets still want to go out so it’s important to make sure they can cope with winter conditions as well as you can in your thick coat and boots.
1. Know what your dog can cope with.
Bigger, hairier dog breeds and those bred for the cold can cope quite well with wintry conditions but it’s important to keep them indoors when you’re not out walking or after a short outdoor break. Small, short-haired pets should only go out for very short periods of time. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them too, as they lose heat quickly. They will definitely need a coat designed for the conditions you experience where you live. Take a spare coat on walks too, in case the one they are wearing gets wet.
Short faced breeds are at more risk from extreme temperatures due to inherent breathing difficulties. It might seem odd but you need to watch out for heat stroke when you get back in the warm if your dog has been exercising heavily. They can become dangerously over-heated!
2. Consider keeping cats in if it’s too cold for you outside.
Make sure you cat has access to a litter tray and keep them indoors if it’s very cold. If they are desperate to go out supervise short outdoor breaks, then get them back inside.
3. Know the signs of distress.
If a dog or cat gets too cold and its body temperature falls it might shiver, appear disorientated, have a slow heart beat or breathe less often. Frostbite can also occur on ears and tails so monitor them carefully.
4. Check your car!
A warm car engine could attract feral or stray dogs or cats desperate for warmth so make a noise, bang on the hood and check your car before you get in and drive away. There might be a cold animal underneath or even on the engine!
5. Watch out for Toxic hazards.
Anti-freeze and rock salt are toxic to animals. If pets get rock salt on their paws or tummies wipe it off as soon as possible after every outing. Use pet friendly alternatives at home such as Propylene glycol based anti-freeze. This pet friendly version is still not great for them but less harmful. Keep all de-icers and chemicals safely away from pets, as anti-freeze can taste nice to animals but do them severe harm. If you think your pet has eaten or drunk any chemicals (pet friendly or not) consult your vet immediately.
6. Avoid lakes and ponds.
The ice might look thick but your dog won’t know if it will hold his weight and all too quickly disaster can strike. Unless you fancy a very icy swim keep your dog on a lead near ice covered water.
Above all, enjoy yourselves and keep safe!