Cold weather top tips for pet owners

Cold weather top tips for pet owners

With the recent drop in temperature it’s important that not only you wrap up warm and take precautions when travelling but that your pets stay safe too.

So here are some top safety tips for pet owners during the winter season.

Coats – just because your pet has a fur coat, doesn’t mean he won’t feel the cold. Small dogs or dogs with little to no hair should have sweaters or jackets for protection against the cold.  If your dog doesn’t like wearing clothing, then better to keep them out of the cold and provide them with mental and physical stimulation through play instead.  Check out “Playing With Your Dog” by Hanne Grice for great game ideas for all ages.

Water & food – ensure food and water is provided inside the home to prevent it from freezing.  Avoid letting your dog drink water from bowls outside as the frigid temperatures could cause stomach upsets and even hypothermia.

Cold – pets shouldn’t be left outside or walked for long periods of time.  Even half an hour in freezing temperatures can cause problems. Never leave your pet outside or in the car for more than ten minutes when temperatures dip below freezing. Your pet’s ears, feet and tail are highly susceptible to frostbite, so limit his time outdoors.

Ice and feet – when walking your dog near ice or frozen puddles/ponds/canals/lakes, keep your dog close to you and on the lead.  This ensures your dog cannot run across the ice, avoids his feet getting accidentally cut on the ice and helps prevent falls on the ice which may lead to injury for you and your dog. Always wash your dog’s paw’s after a winter walk to remove any salt.

Shaking – if your pet is out in the cold and begins shaking or shivering, get him back to warm shelter as soon as possible.  Signs of hypothermia include; shaking/violent shivering, slow and shallow respiration, a slower heart rate, gums may appear pale or blue.  The pet may also appear listless. Call your vet immediately.

Eating snow/ground matter – avoid letting your pet eat snow or anything else on the ground.  Dangerous objects or chemicals may be hidden in the snow or ice.  Eating snow can also cause stomach upsets and even hypothermia. Keep water at room temperature. Pet’s, especially dogs, become easily dehydrated in winter, so make sure he has easy access to fresh water.

Antifreeze – this is highly toxic!  Antifreeze can get into puddles on the pavement and roads and taste sweet to pets, but even the smallest amount is deadly to your pet.  Supervise your pet while outside (even in the garden) and if you suspect your dog has had any exposure to antifreeze, call your vet immediately.

Fire – if you use an indoor or outdoor fireplace, ensure you keep a safety guard around it in order to protect your pet from the flames and soot.  Never leave a fire unattended.

Shelter/bedding – always ensure your pet has adequate shelter where it will be warm and dry.  His bed shouldn’t be in a drafty area and bedding should be kept dry.  Provide extra blankets when temperatures dip below freezing.

Grooming – snow can get easily caught up in the fur of your pet. So, regular grooming will help avoid matter being caught in their coat and a well groomed coat means a better insulating coat for your dog or cat.

In the car – never leave your pet alone in a vehicle.  If the engine is off, he may die from hypothermia.  If the engine is left running, he may be overcome with carbon monoxide fumes.  Better to leave your dog at home in the warm.

Rabbits/Guinea Pigs and other rodents – little furries don’t like the cold, so if possible bring your pets indoors during the coldest winter months.  Avoid placing indoor hutches near radiators or by windows.  Alternatively, move your pets into your garden shed (ideally with some form of heating) or in a garage to avoid the harsh temperatures.  Ensure hutches are away from any drafts and are well insulated with hay and protective coverings.  Check water bottles and food is not frozen.

Follow the tips to keep your pet healthy and safe this winter.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Amos November 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Very Useful, I have a border terrier of 20 months so I appreciate your advice.

Many thanks

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Margie Schultz December 30, 2019 at 7:15 pm

My Springer spaniel won’t quit eating the snow and then he shakes and shivering for 30 min after coming in. I guess I should be out there with him and I bring him in as soon as I see him eating it.

Hanne Grice January 27, 2020 at 10:56 am

Hi Margie,
Yes definitely supervise your spaniel if he enjoys ingesting the snow as these could cause a stomach upset and runny tummy – and at worst – could lead to hypothermia. If you are with him then he can enjoy himself zooming around, but it means you can cue him to “leave it” if he starts to attempt to eat the snow, and then use a recall cue so he can come away and over to you. That way you can positively reward him for coming to you then redirect his attention and reward him for other alternative behaviours, such as chasing a favourite toy or even kicking the snow up into the air so he can chase that instead of eating it. Having him on a long line would also give you greater control to manage the problem, if his ‘leave it’ and or recall cue isn’t solid. Hope that helps.

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