Hot dogs, cosy rabbits – keep them winter warm
When we turned back the clocks, it went in hand with darker evenings and chillier temperatures so, just like us, many of our pets may benefit from an extra bit of TLC as seasons change.
PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing advises: “Colder weather can cause discomfort for some pets, especially those who are young, old or poorly. Thankfully, there are some simple steps we can take to help our furry friends during the winter months.
“It can be comforting to wrap up in our cosiest jumpers and jackets when the cold weather arrives so it is important to remember that our furry friends could also be feeling the chill and may need extra blankets or bedding to snuggle up in. It is also a good idea to raise their beds off the floor to keep them away from draughts.
"Choosing an igloo bed or creating a cosy den for your furry family member, using blankets, pillows and bedding will help them retain their body heat, not to mention giving them a safe haven to escape the outdoors when it is particularly cold!
“When temperatures drop, some dogs, particularly those who are older, unwell or who have thinner fur, may find it helpful to wear a waterproof coat which will keep them warm and dry. Make sure the jacket is well fitted and non-restrictive as, otherwise, it could rub them and cause sores, or make them feel cold if the damp gets underneath.
“Fit and healthy dogs are unlikely to need extra layers unless the weather is extreme, in which case, it might be better for you and your pooch to wait a while for the weather to pass before venturing outside!”
As for winter walks, Nina urges: “As temperatures plummet and frost and snow set in, be sure to take extra care when walking your dog. Snow can be painful when it builds up between pets’ toes or forms clumps on their fur, while salt and grit can also irritate sensitive paw pads. It’s therefore a good idea to check furry friends’ paws when they come inside, removing any snow or ice that may be clinging to them and rinsing off salt and grit.
“You can also keep pets safe as the nights draw in by using a reflective lead or LED collar to improve visibility. Lots of winter coats have reflective strips built in so, once your pet is ready for a new jacket, you can reuse the strips from their old one and tie it to their lead instead of buying a replacement.”
For smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, Nina suggests moving their hutches to less exposed areas, covering with breathable blankets or an old piece of carpet for shelter, ensuring the heat stays in, while at the same time keeping their home well ventilated. Wrapping their bottle with blankets, old clothes or even bubble wrap. (photos: Adobe)