When temperatures drop and it's getting chilly outside, we need to follow a few simple steps to keep our pet's safe and warm. Young and old animals are susceptible to cold temperatures.
- Get a Veterinary check-up:
Some medical conditions can make your pet more vulnerable to cold temperatures. Conditions such as: Diabetes / Arthritis / Heart Disease / Kidney Disease and Hormonal Imbalances can compromise an animals ability to regulate it's body heat.
In older pets with arthritis, the cold temperatures can make joints stiff and tender.
Regardless of their age or health, animals should not stay outside for long periods in freezing weather!
- Keep pet's indoors:
If pets are left outside, they will seek places to get warm ( eg ) cats may hide under a car hood, which may lead to injury or your cat going on an unplanned journey and becoming lost. Be sure to bang the bonnet before you start the engine.
Without fresh, unfrozen water to drink, your pet may drink from gutters or dirty, contaminated puddles which may lead to injury or poisoning.
If your pet must stay outdoors for a significant time, ensure they have a warm shelter to protect against wind, rain or snow. Provide warm, thick bedding, doggy coats are a great way to keep your friend warm. Provide plenty of unfrozen water.
- Check your pet's feet:
Ice melters such as salt, magnesium or calcium chloride can irritate paws and be toxic if swallowed. Use dog boots or wipe your pet's paws with a warm, moist washcloth after each walk.
- Avoid using Anti-freeze containing products:
Antifreeze is extremely dangerous to cats and dogs. It is used in car radiators, screen washes and de-icers, and in water features to prevent them freezing up. Unlike most chemicals, cats seem to be attracted to the taste of antifreeze and swallowing even a tiny amount will cause serious kidney damage, often so severe that the cat will die.
IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOUR CAT OR DOG HAS INGESTED ANTIFREEZE, SEEK IMMEDIATE VETERINARY ATTENTION!
- Take precautions while walking:
Never walk your dog without a lead. Snow can be disorientating and they may become easily lost. Ensure your dog is microchipped and wearing an ID tag. If off lead, they may easily fall into frozen ponds or icy lakes or dash in front of a car that can not easily stop on an icy road.
High visibility jackets / coats will ensure your pet can be easily seen in the dark.
Regularly check that your dog's leads, collars and harnesses are all functioning safely and not at risk of wear and tear damage during winter weather.
- Watch for warning signs:
Pet's lose most of their body heat from the pads of their feet, ears and respiratory tract. Signs of discomfort from the cold may include whining, shivering, behaving anxiously, slowing down or looking for a place to burrow.
Animals can get frostbite and hypothermia so AVOID extended periods outdoors.