Caring for your pet in the cold winter months

Caring for your pet in the cold winter months

Caring for your pet in the cold winter months

The changes that occur in the winter season can be dangerous for your pets. From icy pathways to de-icing agents, you’d be surprised by the number of risks that are around during the colder months.

Salt and grit
Salt and grit will inevitably stick to your pet’s paws and coats, so when they clean themselves, they will ingest these substances, which can cause serious health problems. If you suspect that your pet has ingested rock salt, you should contact The Vet immediately. To avoid this occurrence, you should make sure to wipe your pet’s paws, legs and tummy when they come inside the house.

Antifreeze is a very dangerous substance for your pet to ingest. Consuming the smallest amount can cause kidney failure and will lead to fatality. Sadly, the taste of antifreeze is very appealing to pets, so any spillages are likely to be eagerly lapped up. You need to make sure you store antifreeze well away from any animal, in a secure container. If you do spill any, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned up and disposed of safely, not just poured down the drain.

If your pet is showing any of the following symptoms, get them to The Vet immediately, as it could be a sign that they have come across some antifreeze:

Depression or sleepiness
Appearing uncoordinated

Having seizures
Having difficulty breathing.

These symptoms can start to show just 30 minutes after contact with antifreeze and it can take two to three days until kidney failure. The sooner you get the animal to The Vet, the greater chance their life can be saved.

Ice and snow
Ice is dangerous. Slip, trips and falling through ice covered water are all something we are wary of for our own safety, so make sure you extend your caution to your pets. They can suffer the same injuries as us, such as pulling a muscle or even breaking a leg!
Although snow is rare in the United Kingdom we suggest you keep an eye on your pets -curious dogs may be overly excited by the snow and eat it… but if they consume too much of it, it can cause stomach upset and will cool them down from the inside, which can lead to hypothermia.

Providing a warm place to curl up is something we need to provide for our pets. They rely on us for safety and comfort, so don’t leave your pet outside in the freezing cold, their fur coats aren’t enough to keep them warm. However if your cat or dog lives outside, they will need a warm, secure bed with lots of blankets and complete protection from the elements. We also suggest this for any small pets living outside in hutches. They must have adequate shelter and lots of warm bedding, think about bringing their hutch into the shed or garage to keep them away from the wind and rain.

We all understand that animals need access to clean water in the summer months. However, in winter water bowls and troughs can freeze every night when outside. You need to be keeping an eye on refreshing their water every day, or sheltering their water in a place where it won’t freeze over.

Older pets
Pets with arthritis will feel particularly uncomfortable in the cold, so make sure they are kept as warm as can be. If they still seem to be in discomfort, please visit your vet.

Pets who live outside will need to be fed more to keep warm, whereas pets who spend most of their days inside, may need less food as they’ll be spending less time exercising, and more time sleeping in the warmth. If you’re unsure on whether to change your pet’s diet visit The Vet for a full health check – we cover your pet’s weight and diet needs, check them over for any ticks or fleas as well as the health of their teeth, coat and nails.

It may seem your pet has a thick coat over most of their bodies, however their paws, tips of their ears and tails are unprotected and are the most likely to get frostbitten. Keep an eye on these extremities and take precautions. We wouldn’t consider going out on an icy day with a coat but no shoes and socks! So please be cautious and keep an eye out for signs of frostbite on your pet, which will look like patches of waxy skin or blisters.

Cats love to snuggle up under car bonnets to keep warm. Be aware of this by tapping on your bonnet and checking your wheel arches before you start up the engine. Leave the engine running for a while before moving, this will allow a cat time to run away if they are hidden somewhere beneath your car. If you’re still not 100% sure or to be extra vigilant beep your horn once. It may seem cruel, but it could save their life!

If you think your pet has come into contact with any of these winter hazards, please contact your local The Vet centre straight away to book an appointment.