Most of us will be preparing our homes and cars for the cold weather – but, the RSPCA warns, not to forget your pets need extra care too. Here are some tips to help animals stay safe and healthy this winter.
An early cold snap has already caused problems for motorists and commuters this winter, while homeowners are being urged to take steps to protect their properties from the effects of a potentially harsh winter.
But making sure your pets are prepared for bad weather can be just as important.
The RSPCA is urging pet owners all over the UK, to look after their animals as the cold weather sets in.
The charity says the public must do their bit to help keep animals happy and healthy. RSPCA inspectors are also bracing themselves for a busy period as animals struggle to cope with the freezing conditions, while claims against pet insurance policies could also increase during this period.
One of those inspectors, Tony Woodley, says: “Winter weather can spell trouble for some animals as they struggle to cope with the conditions as much as we do.
“We can all take simple steps to help animals at this time, however our inspectors are on-call around the clock so they can help if the worst should happen.”
Top things to remember
The RSPCA has issued some simple guidance to ensure that animals are kept comfortable during the winter weather.
- Owners of dogs with thin or sparse hair in particular should consider clothing their pet while they are being exercised outdoors.
- Two or three shorter walks may be better than one long one to avoid being out in the cold for a long period of time, although it is still important to maintain some routine.
- Owners should remember to wear reflective clothing if they are taking your dog out for a walk in the dark, while it is also important to keep dogs away from lakes or ponds which may have iced over to prevent them from falling in.
- Horses and ponies will also need constant access to shelter and fresh water which has not frozen over as well as extra food and blankets if necessary.
- Cats should not be shut out of the house for long periods of time and must always be able to find suitable warmth and shelter.
- Rabbits and guinea pigs may need extra bedding to keep warm and could need moving inside into a shed or garage for shelter from the weather.
- Don’t forget about wildlife: in freezing conditions, birds will welcome extra food and water – provided you keep it liquid. The RSPCA’s website has details of suitable kitchen scraps you can leave out.
- At Christmas, remember that decorative plants such as holly and poinsettia are poisonous, and take steps to avoid animals eating Christmas tree needles, for example. And be careful with treats: foods such as chocolate, raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs.