Keeping Pets Safe in Cold Weather
As the weather grows colder, our four-legged friends are at risk from a whole host of problems.
Particularly in danger from the cold are those with short furcoats (or those who have been shaved for surgery), the very old and very young, small breeds (especially those with short legs as their bellies drag on the icy ground) and those with chronic illnesses. Therefore, the point at which it becomes ‘too cold’ varies for every animal.
All pet owners should be aware of the signs of hypothermia: animals may show violent shivering followed by severe listlessness, muscle stiffness and trouble breathing. The animal should be put in a warm environment and the vets contacted immediately.
In the cold weather, it is advisable to limit the length of walks (particularly before or after the sun has risen) and prevent animals from swimming in cold water as when wet the coat traps cold air against the skin. It is best to avoid leaving animals in parked cars as these can quickly reach freezing temperatures. It may be appropriate to dress your dogs in jackets or jumpers; however the animal should not be left unattended whilst wearing clothing in case it becomes wet or rides up around the throat. If walking on gritted roads, make sure to wash and dry dogs’ feet afterwards or use doggy boots to prevent grit from burning the dogs’ pads.
For outdoor cats, make sure water sources have not frozen over and check under your car before setting off – many cats like to shelter under a warm engine, but a bang on the bonnet or a toot of the horn is enough to send them on their way.
And not to forget our smallest pets – if rabbits and other hutch animals cannot be brought inside, care must be taken to ensure their hutch faces away from winds, raised up from icy floors. Plenty of bedding should be available for the animal to dig into and a hide-away area with solid walls to escape to if the temperature gets too low.
If you have any concerns about keeping your pets snug and safe this winter, please feel free to contact the surgery to talk to one of our members of staff