Vets’ advice to keep Sussex pets safe and warm this winter

Keep your pets warm in the cold weather this winter
Keep your pets warm in the cold weather this winter

Despite a warm start to autumn, colder days are now upon us leading to potentially difficult conditions for pets and their owners.

Some pets may have already experienced freezing conditions recently, but with winter approaching most will feel the chill in the upcoming months.

There are a few simple and effective techniques you can adopt to ensure fog, ice, cold temperatures and other winter conditions don’t affect your pets.

“Seasonal weather provides pets and their owners with different challenges, but following simple pieces of advice can help provide both with a comfortable life,” said Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets.

“Changes in the outside temperature are commonly linked to health problems in pets, but simply moving pets to the warmth of our houses when it’s cold isn’t always the answer.

“Dogs love going for a walk no matter what the season, but it’s important to keep them in sight during foggy weather with high visibility jackets as well as keeping them warm with winter coats, especially smaller breeds.

“As the dark nights draw in, cats can become dazzled by bright headlights despite their good eye sight. It’s best to keep them indoors at night to limit the risk.

“Small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs, as well as some reptiles such as tortoises also enjoy being outside, however during the winter months they will need to be moved to a warmer and sheltered part of the home or garden.”

When walking a dog during periods of colder weather it’s advised to towel dry them as soon as you get home, paying particular attention between toes.

Wash them down if they have any mud on their coat and stay away from any ponds or lakes that may be iced over as thin ice may break under a dog’s weight.

Reflective collars are advised for cats, as well as ensuring they are microchipped and, where possible, keeping them indoors at night will also help to reduce the risk of road traffic accidents.

For small furries it is advised to, if possible, raise their beds and hutches off the ground to prevent the base from becoming too cold. Providing extra bedding and ensuring their hutch is sheltered from any wind is important, as well as making sure their water supply doesn’t become frozen.

Dr Stacey said: “Although bringing pets indoors keeps them warm, it’s important to remember not to place them too close to heaters or radiators, as they can suffer from heat stress and can become ill if they over-heat.

“Hibernating pets, such as tortoises will need preparation. If you need any advice it’s best to speak with your local vet.

“Most animals like to be warm during the winter particularly cats, and they often seek hot spots such as car bonnets, tumble dryers and open fires. To prevent any accidents, always check before turning appliances on or driving away in your car.”

For more information on how to keep your pet safe during cold weather contact your local vet.

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