Whether you are venturing off to snowier climates or staying at home and braving the chill this winter, its important to keep your pet companions safe and warm.
As a Pet Plan Vet of the year Finalist our resident vet Tony Barnes, from
Manor Veterinary Clinic
in Folkestone, is an expert in taking care of our pets. We asked Tony for some of his top tips to help keep our four-legged friends healthy and fit as the temperature starts to drop.
Any animal can suffer from hypothermia. Puppies, kittens, rabbits and small animals and older animals are more likely to suffer from dangerously low body temperatures, especially if their fur is wet. In severe cases,animals lose the ability to shiver and become disorientated and lethargic.
Make sure that your animal is not left outside unattended for long periods of time and ensure they have shelter. If your pet lives outside, regularly check they have plenty of fresh bedding, food and water.In extreme weather conditions, and where possible, bring the animal and its housing into a garage or shed to give them extra warmth.
Animals need to have fresh water available at all times. Make sure that water bowls aren't frozen over and provide a bowl inside that your pet can access.
Antifreeze, containing ethylene glycol, smells and tastes sweet. If ingested by cats or dogs, it is highly toxic with a high mortality rate.
It is absorbed quickly and signs can occur within a few hours of ingestion.Acute cases (within 12 hours of ingestion) will show vomiting, depression and ataxia (in-coordination). The chemical forms crystals in the kidneys,which can lead to acute kidney failure even after treatment with intravenous fluids.
If you suspect that your animal has come in to contact with antifreeze, contact the vet immediately as it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible.
To reduce exposure of animals to antifreeze, store in tightly closed containers out of the reach of children or pets and clean up any spills thoroughly.
Do not dispose of antifreeze by pouring it down gutters.
Cold weather can aggravate osteoarthritis in dogs and cats. If your pet is having trouble getting up, jumping or navigating the stairs, book an appointment with your vet to discuss treatment options.
Some animals may require extra calories to keep warm, however other animals may be less active and may require less food.
If you are worried that your animal may be losing or gaining weight, bring them in for a free nurse weight clinic where we will be happy to advise on diet.
Winter advice for dog owners
- Try to walk dogs during daylight if possible, but if you have to walk your dog in the dark keep your dog on a lead and pay attention to visibility. Wear reflective clothing, carry a torch and get your dog a reflective lead and collar.
- If your dog gets wet, make sure that you dry them as soon as you get home.
- Consider getting a winter coat for short-coated or thin dogs. Breeds such as Greyhounds, Chihuahuas and Dobermans can struggle to keep warm.
- Ice, salt and grit can damage your dog's feet so some dogs will benefit from wearing doggy boots. Wash your dog's feet after a walk on salted pavements.
- Trim the fur around your dog's feet to prevent ice-balls forming.Dogs with long hair on the belly may also get snowballs forming which can be uncomfortable.
- Stay away from frozen ponds and lakes. Keep your dog on a lead near frozen water and if your animal falls in, don't risk your own safety.
Winter can come with so many worries and stresses for pet owners, but it be easily avoidable.
Wherever you are going to be this winter or whatever you are planning on doing, follow our tips and enjoy making the most of the cold weather.