The British Veterinary Association (BVA) have issued advice to pet owners on how to keep their best friends safe this winter.
G. Ravetz, president of the BVA said, "Each season brings its own set of hazards, and winter is no different, so we ask owners to make sure their animals are kept safe and warm over the winter months. Simple things, like leaving your dog sitting on the cold ground outside a shop whilst you pop in, can cause them to get excessively cold. Pets still need their usual exercise through the winter, but be mindful of the temperatures outside, it may be better to go outside more regularly for less time than be outside for a long time on one walk."
Other tips include:
- Make sure your pet's bed is in a warm, draught-free spot and is raised off the floor.
- Older dogs or those with thin fur, should wear a dog coat when temperatures drop.
- During the darker winter months, try to walk your dog before night falls (if you can). If that is not possible, use a reflective lead, collar or dog coat and carry a torch so that other road users can see you.
- Wipe your dog's paws and belly on returning home from a snowy or wet walk to remove any ice, salt or dirt, and check regularly for cracks in the paw pads or redness between the toes. Wiping paws can also prevent pets from ingesting toxins they may have stood in - de-icer and antifreeze are highly toxic.
- When walking in icy and snowy conditions, don't let you dog off the lead and avoid areas where ponds or lakes have frozen over - animals don't understand the different between solid ground and ice and can fall through. If the worst happens and a dog falls through, don't go in after your pet. Although it's distressing, it's never worth risking your own life as well as your dogs.
- Don't bathe your dog too often in winter, unless he's rolled in something unbearable! If you do, use warm water and make sure he's dried thoroughly afterwards to prevent him getting cold and becoming ill.
- Be aware that the cold can worsen some conditions, such as arthritis. if you've not had your animal checked with your vet, this is a good time to schedule a visit.
- Take care over Winter and enjoy the snow.