During extreme cold weather take extra care to keep your pet safe and warm
Cats versus snow…
1. If your cat usually goes outside to go to the toilet may want a litter tray inside when it’s very cold, particularly if there is snow on the ground – try using soil if your cat doesn’t like litter. Check that snow/ice has not blocked or frozen up your cat flap – your cat needs to be able to get in and out.
2. It is likely that during this wintry weather your cat will choose to stay inside curled up somewhere warm. However if you have a cat that likes to brave the elements you need to ensure they have access to a warm place. When temperature’s really drop then you will have to resist their requests to go outside, pet cats aren’t conditioned for extreme cold and can suffer frostbite and/or hypothermia.
3. If in doubt, keep your cat inside. A cat in search of shelter could end up somewhere they shouldn’t be and possibly get stuck or worse. For cats left outdoors often look for somewhere warm – like a car engine bay – with potentially fatal results.
4. Make sure your cat is fitted with a microchip so if they do wander off in search of a warm place they can be traced back to you.
Dogs in winter
1. Your dog needs exercise, so try to take your dog out. If you are going for walks in bad weather or dark mornings/evenings then be seen by wearing bright or reflective gear. You can also get some great reflective gear for dogs too. However, in extreme weather don’t put yourself at risk, play with your dog inside.
2. Most pet dogs live inside, so don’t leave them outside in the extreme cold because they could suffer frostbite and/or hypothermia.
3. If you walk on gritted pavements be aware that salt and grit can irritate the footpads of some dogs, if your dog is affected, wash their paws when you get home.
4. Many dogs have a thick undercoat which keeps them warm but some short-coated breeds can really feel the cold. If your dog has a thin coat then think about a doggy coat or jumper to keep them toasty when outside.
5. Dogs can get painful ice-balls on their feet when walking in snow. If your dog is susceptible to this, trimming the hair on the bottom of their feet can help minimise the problem.
6. Keep your dog on a lead near frozen water. Ice is thickest near the banks so if they go out into the middle they risk falling in. Never venture out onto the ice yourself after your dog, this is very dangerous. You are more likely to put yourself at risk than you are to rescue your dog.
Rabbit and guinea pig cold weather survival guide
1. Rabbits and guinea pigs will still want to exercise so in day time continue to give them access to their run.
2. When it’s cold your pet will burn extra calories staying warm, make sure to give them plenty of good quality hay to eat.
3. Check the location of your hutch so that the front is not exposed to, snow, wind and rain. In extreme weather, you can move the hutch into a shed or garage. Guinea pigs, will do better if kept inside in winter, for example in a conservatory.
4. A hungry badger or fox may try to get to your rabbit or guinea pig in winter. Your hutch needs to be strong and secure enough to resist their efforts to get to your pet.
5. The mechanism in water bottles can freeze up so check regularly to ensure it still works.
6. Keep outdoor pets extra snug by adding extra bedding and covering the front of their hutch with a blanket or similar.