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Staying Safe in the Snow

Keeping Your Pets Comfortable in Harsh Climates

Brrr! Whether it’s cold and dry where you are or you’re completely snowed in, be sure to keep your pets happy and healthy.

After a walk, dry your dog with a warm towel and, especially if they’ve been walking awhile on cold ground, pay close attention to their footpads. Watch out for small snowballs and granules of road salt/grit as both can cause pain if they’re lodged beneath your pet’s feet for a long time.

Consider feeding dogs and cats a larger portion of food as when they’re cold, they’ll shiver and move about more to keep warm, which burns calories. It’s therefore essential to maintain their energy levels. Also, keeping your pet hydrated will prevent the extreme weather conditions drying out their skin; ensure plenty of fresh, clean water (just don’t let it freeze!)   

You don’t need the heating on full-blast, but your pet will appreciate a snug refuge when the weather is so terrible. Keep their beds away from damp or chilly areas of the house and consider upping their blanket supply. Cats may curl up in the least likely places – such as beneath a car bonnet or in a bucket in the garage, so always keep your eyes peeled and consider keeping them indoors.

With small pets, the same rules apply. Cover hutches with a blanket and move them to somewhere sheltered and well-insulated. Be wary of sheds and greenhouses as they’re unlikely to maintain a suitable temperature.

Just like during the summer, it’s unwise to leave a pet alone in a cold car. In fact, unless it’s for a walk or to take them to the toilet, it’s probably best to keep them indoors and out of harm’s way. If you can’t bear the sub-zero temperatures and are dying to get home yourself, your pet is probably feeling the same way!

Be mindful of black ice, frozen puddles or ponds. Avoid the latter at all costs when out walking. Your dog might love snow and get incredibly excited when out and about in it; remember they are just as likely (probably more) to slip and hurt themselves as you are. In cases when the weather is really bad, keep them on the lead.

Both the smell and taste of antifreeze is appetising to cats and dogs but don’t be fooled: antifreeze is highly poisonous to them both! To this end, keep it well out of their reach and clean up any spillages immediately. Bear in mind also, your pet might smell chemicals or other products on their paws after a walk, so make sure you clean them up before they’re tempted to do so themselves!

One more thing: pets’ fur coats don’t protect them from the cold as well as you might think. If your dog seems uncomfortable, consider treating them to a coat/sweater.   

Good luck out there, stay safe and remember to contact your vet if something doesn’t seem right!

Practice information

Summerhill Vets

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Dr Doolittle’s Aberdare

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