Cold weather tips for your pets

Cold weather tips for your pets

There’s a definite chill in the air, and winter is on its way – read our top tips for keeping your pets happy and healthy!


-Short-haired breeds and elderly dogs can really feel the cold and will benefit from a coat or jumper when out on walks.

-Walking over gritted pathways can irritate your dog’s paws, so after a walk make sure you clean and dry their paws. If this is not done they are likely to lick their sore pads, and ingesting the salt from the grit can lead to dehydration and in severe cases liver problems.

-Trim any long hair between your dog’s toes to prevent ice, snow and rock salt sticking to the fur.

-Never leave your dog unattended in the car in cold weather; the temperature drops very quickly.

-Stay away from frozen lakes or rivers when on walks; if you think your dog will be tempted to run onto the ice keep them on a lead.

-If your dog is reluctant to go out in the very cold weather, keep them active by playing a game with them indoors, and remember if they’re not exercising as much, you’ll need to reduce their food intake accordingly.

-Ensure your dog has a cosy bed to come home to, away from any draughts.


-Make sure your cat has a cosy bed to sleep in away from any draughts.

-Some cats will become reluctant to toilet outside once the weather turns colder, so ensure they have access to a litter tray at all times. If you have more than one cat you should provide a litter tray for each cat and a spare one as most cats do not like to share their litter tray with another cat. The reason for the spare is in case both litter trays have been used and it gives them an optional extra, as most cats do not like to go back to use a litter tray once it is dirty. Providing this amount of trays will help prevent any inappropriate toileting in the house.

-If there has been heavy snow make sure their cat flap is not blocked.

-Antifreeze is extremely toxic to both cats and dogs, and they are attracted to its sweet smell and taste. Keep it well away from all pets, and mop up any spillages. If you suspect your pet may have consumed antifreeze seek veterinary advice immediately.

Small animals

-Rabbits are naturally designed to live outdoors and cope well with the cold weather.

-Make sure their hutch and run is protected from the wind and rain, cover it with a tarpaulin so that no rain can get in, and nailing carpet to the external walls will provide extra insulation.

-Top up their hay to provide extra bedding as well as food, and feed plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables daily as the extra vitamins will help them fight off any chills. If your rabbit isn’t getting access to grass every day, pick them some!

-Check water sources regularly as they can easily freeze over and even crack, keep a spare bottle to hand.

-Guinea pigs do not cope well with the cold and need to be moved into a shed or outbuilding to provide extra shelter (we do not recommend a garage if you keep a car in it as the fumes can be highly dangerous).

-On bright days your guinea pigs can use an outside run, but provide plenty of surfaces that are above the cold ground, such as boxes filled with hay.

-You may wish to move your elderly guinea pigs indoors, if so they will need a large cage at least 5ft long for daily exercise. If they are used to your warm house we would not advise letting them use an outdoor run. Claws will need extra trimming if they have not been outside.

Field Animals

-Most field animals are very hardy and designed to cope with the elements.

-Ensure any outdoor animals have constant access to a good shelter which will keep them warm and dry.

-Provide extra hay which will provide both warmth and extra food when the weather turns colder.

-Regularly check water sources to ensure they have not frozen over.

Taken from Woodgreen Animals Charity

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