Christmas is coming and the temperature is falling. Icy and snowy conditions are possible over the next couple of months. We all know how to look after ourselves and keep warm, but what do we need to consider for our dogs and cats to be happy and healthy during the winter season?
• Consider investing in a warm, waterproof and reflective coat for your dog, especially if they are short coated such as whippets and greyhounds, which are very susceptible to the cold and damp. Reflective details are particularly handy if you walk in the dark.
• Reflective collars or lights which can be attached to a collar are also a good idea when walking down dark roads in the evening.
• Rinse your dogs’ feet after walking especially if the roads have been gritted, as the salt can cause local irritation to the skin, but also potentially can be toxic if licked off the feet in large quantities.
• Ice burn can occur on soft footpads, so consider protective boots if doing lots of walking on icy ground.
• Dogs love to play in the snow, but be aware that snow can form large clumps of ice in the fur of long coated dogs, especially between the toes and on the underside of the dog. As well as being heavy and uncomfortable prolonged contact with the skin can cause ice burn.
• Keep dogs on leads close to frozen rivers, lakes and ponds to reduce the risk of them falling through thin ice should they run on to it. This is also for your safety as you would be putting yourself at risk if trying to rescue a stuck dog.
• You may need to reduce your dogs’ food if they are getting less exercise during the cold weather in order to avoid unnecessary weight gain.
• Antifreeze is extremely tasty to cats but sadly also highly toxic, so be careful using it and clean up any spills immediately, and make sure it is stored securely.
• If your cat normally wears a collar, try a reflective one to make them more visible in the darker evenings.
• Provide a litter tray in case they don’t want to go outside in the snow. It is recommended in households with multiple cats that you provide at least one clean tray per cat (plus an extra one for luck!) in different locations.
• If they do want to go outside make sure they have a warm area to shelter in if they can’t get back inside.
• Many cats like to drink from natural water sources outside, however if these are frozen over they will need fresh water daily to be provided at home.