How to keep pets happy during winter chill

With the nights drawing in and reports of a very chilly winter ahead, PDSA is offering advice for owners on keeping their pets safe and sound over the coming months.

Elaine Pendlebury, senior vet at PDSA said: “Despite their fur coats our pets do feel the cold, but with a bit of attention we can help them to stay warm and cosy.”

Elaine has put together tips for pets this winter:

Cats and dogs – ensure cats and dogs always have access to shelter and warmth. Pets can develop a dangerously low body temperature (hypothermia) quite quickly; if you spot shivering bring your pet in at once.

Never leave pets in cars or unheated conservatories and caravans. Young and elderly pets get cold very quickly, so should only go outside for a short supervised periods.

Dogs should wear a suitable dog coat. A layered coat is ideal – waterproof on the outside to avoid your dog getting wet with a fleecy layer that you can remove as your dog gets warm after exercise.

It’s better to keep cats indoors during winter nights, although if you’re cat is used to going out they could get a bit grumpy so have plenty of toys and activities available to prevent them getting bored.

Take your dog on shorter walks more often, and if they get wet be sure to towel them dry as soon as you get home.

Don’t let pets lie on frozen ground for a prolonged period, as this can lead to frostbite.

Protect your pet’s feet from ice, grit and salt by keeping the hair between their toes trimmed, and wipe their feet dry after a walk. Special boots are also available for dogs.

Small pets - guinea pigs should be brought inside during the winter – a car-free garage or shed is ideal, but they still need access to daylight and an exercise run.

If it becomes very cold rabbits also need to be moved to a warm shed or car-free garage.

Check drinking bottles daily to make sure they’re not frozen.

Provide extra bedding to help keep them warm, and put a blanket or piece of carpet over hutches to help keep out draughts – make sure it doesn’t obstruct ventilation though.

PDSA is on a mission to educate the nation on pet wellbeing and is delighted that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping the charity to continue this vital work. With good preparation, your pets will enjoy a snug and happy winter!

For even more advice visit www.pdsa.org.uk/winterhealth