Looking after your pets in winter

With the first snow already fallen we are now well into the dark winter months! There are a few things to consider when it comes to your pets’ safety at this time of year.

I still enjoy exercising in the fells with my two dogs, but what I carry for myself changes at this time of year and it is the same for the dogs. 

I will take a couple of dog jackets with me as it can get very cold on the tops and a lot of people will use doggy boots as the ice and snow can cause a reaction in some pets.

For when I am walking them on lower ground, I will always wash my dogs’ feet after they have been walking on gritted roads. The grit can really irritate between the pads, and they will sit and lick at them a lot. This can make them drink a lot more water but can also lead to redness and infection around the paws.

A healthy dog’s fur naturally provides good insulation from the cold and protection from water. But there are circumstances where dogs can benefit from the addition of a jacket during winter. Old dogs who are less able to keep warm through being active, or who have thin coats, will benefit. Fine-coated breeds such as whippets and greyhounds routinely need the protection of a jacket in winter. And many dogs will benefit from a jacket if they will be standing around with you for a length of time in winter weather.

Remember if you have your dog clipped, this removes the top layer of naturally waterproof hair leaving them more vulnerable to cold and wet until it grows back. 

In winter it is important that dogs are not left wet after a soaking such as in the sea or drenching rain. After the walk they should be dried off thoroughly.

With the days being so short I am often having to walk the dogs in the dark. I would highly recommend some glow in the dark or light up collars for your dogs to improve their visibility to motorists as well as wearing high visibility clothing yourself. You can also get high visibility collars for your cats which might help save them if they are on the roads in the dark.

Any rabbits and guinea pigs usually in outdoor runs should hopefully have somewhere warm and insulated to spend the winter months with a good supply of high-quality hay to keep their diet stable and prevent dental problems.