As snowfall and icy weather sweep across the UK, a national vet charity is urging pet owners to take extra precautions to protect furry friends from the cold.
PDSA vet Lynne James said: “Winter can be a dangerous time for all animals, but fine coated, poorly, young or elderly pets are at higher risk of hypothermia in freezing temperatures.
“Thankfully, there are simple steps we can all take to keep our precious furry family members safe, warm and healthy as the mercury drops.
Ms James said: “Use a well-fitting, fully lined, non-restrictive waterproof coat to help keep dogs warm and dry when on walks if they are very young, old or have thin fur. Try to avoid walking dogs in freezing cold weather if they are poorly – instead, encourage them to go to the toilet in the garden, then bring them straight back into the warmth.”
“Ice and snow can be painful for large and small pets alike if it gets stuck between their paws, so try to keep hair in between their pads trimmed and check their paws when they come back inside,” Ms James said. Using a paw butter can help prevent sore cracked pads.
Shelter for small pets
Ms James said that when the temperature hits below zero, move outdoor rabbits and guinea pigs to a warm and sheltered area, such as a shed or car-free garage, making sure they’re protected from drafts and exhaust fumes.
“They should still have access to natural light, plenty of room and be given regular access to an outside run so that they can exercise when the temperatures are slightly milder,” she said.
Curfew for cats
Cats may want to stay indoors more when it gets cold – encourage owners to give them toys to play with to keep them occupied and a litter tray so they don’t have to brave the elements if they don’t want to.
“If they still prefer to go outside, make sure they can easily get back inside or have access to a warm, sheltered area when the temperature plummets,” Ms James said.
Ms James said: “All furry friends should have extra bedding over winter, and small pets will love piles of extra hay to snuggle up to.
“Your cat will really appreciate a few extra comfy spaces to curl up in around the house, too – igloo beds are ideal, as they help furry friends get really cosy. You can even place a safely wrapped, animal-safe heat pad under their bedding for extra warmth.”