Pet care tips and advice during cold weather periods

Pets will be noticing the change in the weather as temperatures continue to remain low and the ISPCA has put together some important safety tips during the cold winter spell.

Heading out for a walk?

If the temperature outside is too cold for you to stay outdoors, the same may be true for your pets. Certain dog breeds are well adapted for cold weather, but others such as small dogs, sighthounds, short haired dogs, older dogs or those with health problems may have less tolerance for freezing temperatures. If you are unsure how well your pet will adapt in colder weather, speak to your veterinary practitioner for advice.

The ISPCA recommend you opt for shorter, more frequent walks especially on cold days. If your dog is comfortable wearing a jacket or jumper, have a dry one on hand. A wet jumper will make your pet colder, l so check it regularly or make sure it’s waterproof.

If you are walking your pet at night, always wear high-vis or bright colours so you can both be seen. Bring along a torch, because even in the dark you have to clean up after your dog.

It is best to always keep your dog(s ) on the lead, especially when there is extreme snow or icy weather. This type of weather inhibits the sense of smell they use to navigate, and they can get disoriented. Ensure your dog is tagged and microchipped, with your contact details up-to-date in the correct database.

Be careful of the surface where your dog walks, and try to keep him or her away from roads that are covered in salt. When your dog comes inside, fully wipe down their paws, legs and belly to remove salt and de-icing chemicals that may have been on the road. These can cause irritation or stomach upset if licked off your pet’s feet or fur. The same goes for cats when you bring them inside during the winter.

After your walk

When you come in from a walk, check your dog’s paw pads and between the toes for cracked skin, bleeding, or salt. Chloride salts heat up substantially when mixed with water, a chemical reaction that can be extremely painful if the salt is lodged between your pet’s toes.

Try not to shave your dog’s fur during the winter

If your dog coat needs regular grooming, simply trim to minimise the amount of snow, ice or salt crystals that get caught in his or her fur. Additionally, be careful not to give too many baths in winter, as they can lead to dry, flaky skin.

Many ice melting products are toxic to pets

When looking for de-icing products to use at home, look for pet-friendly ones. Check the ingredients, those with propylene glycol are safer than most.

Anti-freeze is extremely toxic to pets if ingested, but it tastes good to them. All containers should be secured and stored well away from curious paws and noses. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately. If you suspect your pet has ingested anti-freeze, contact your vet immediately.

Ensure pets have access to unfrozen water, extra food, and good shelter

Don’t leave them outside for long periods on freezing cold or wet days, ensure they have warm shelter away from the harsh wind or rain. Give them a little extra food and ensure there is clean (unfrozen ) drinking water available.

The ISPCA recommends bringing outdoor pets inside on very cold days, especially overnight, or alternatively having a dry, outdoor shelter for them. This should be raised from the ground with the entrance blocked from rain, snow or wind. The shelter should be dry, with thick bedding that is changed regularly.

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