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Keeping Your Pet Safe This Winter

As the winter months close in, it can be an extremely harsh contrast from the warmth of the summer months that your pet companion may be used to.  During these cooler and darker months, it’s important to know how to keep your pets warm and cosy in the safety and comfort of your home.  Below, we’ve put together some of our top tips to help you keep your pet warm and happy this winter.

Warm Environments

Cats that spend much of the day outdoors will look for places to hide and warm up on a cold day. One of their favourite warm napping spots may be your car with a nice hot recently used engine! Before you take your next trip out, ensure there aren’t any furry friends taking a nap under your car. Tap the bonnet and listen for any movement, checking around the wheel arches too, as these provide quiet, secluded areas for a cat to nap.

Although the outside of a car may seem warm to a pet, the inside of a car can be the complete opposite.  Similar to the hot summer days, you shouldn’t leave any pets inside your car. Cars can act like a fridge in the winter, and whilst it might protect from the elements, cold air becomes trapped inside the car. Just think how long it takes to heat your car up in the morning before a journey! If travelling with your pet, make sure they get out the car with you at your destination, and have a blanket with them in case they need to snuggle under it.

For the colder evenings inside, you and your pet may opt to wear a few more layers. Keep a few blankets around your pet’s favourite snoozing area so they can warm up if needed.  If you’re still concerned your house isn’t warm enough for your pet, a heated pet bed could help.

Always remember if it is too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.

Dress up Time

Grooming your pet is still so important during winter, but please be careful not to shave your pet’s fur right down, as they need it during these months to keep them warm and regulate their body temperature. If your pet allows it, dressing them up in a jumper or protective coat can stop them getting a chill in the cold weather. Hairless cats would especially benefit from this. With the sun setting earlier during the winter we can also be forced to walk our pets in the dark. Make sure your pet’s jumper, coat or even their collar includes something reflective, or has lights to keep you and your pet safe.

If you’re out for a walk with your pet, they can also wear protective boots to keep their paws safe from the harsh cold pavement, but also from chemicals, salt and grit.

If your dog doesn’t like to wear boots, make sure to wash their paws when you get in from your walk, as well as warming them up, it will wash off any man-made chemicals used to deter the ice and cold. Antifreeze and rock salt can be detrimental to your pet, so anything you can do to prevent them touching these is a bonus. Please give our articles of the dangers of antifreeze and rock salt a read to find out more.

Chip Your Pet

From Winter 2022 the laws on microchipping your cats will become compulsory. Having your pets microchipped gives you a much higher chance of finding them again if they were to stray too far from home. As awful as it is to think of, during the winter months pets can become disorientated and scared in the bad weather. This can cause them to take shelter somewhere unfamiliar, or stray from their usual journey home. Having both cats and dogs microchipped means there’s a higher chance of them being found and returned to their very worried and loving family.

Listen to Your Pets!

Pets can let you know when they’re unhappy, they can whine, shiver, or they might behave differently to their usual self. However sometimes pets don’t, or can’t, articulate when they’re not feeling their best selves. The cold weather can cause illnesses, such as hypothermia or frostbite, or it can aggravate and worsen existing conditions, such as arthritis. During these winter months it’s best to put as many preventative measures as possible in place and to keep an eye on your pet’s behaviour to spot anything out of the norm. Having your yearly vet checkup during the winter months, especially for those pets with chronic illnesses, can help to keep your pet happy and healthy all winter long. If you have a Pet Health Plan, check with your vet to see what’s covered on your plan as these checks could be covered already.

Always remember, if you’re ever concerned about your pet during the colder months, please contact your local veterinary practice for advice on how to help.