Like or loathe winter, it’s a time of year that can cause difficulties for us all. Sadly our pets can encounter problems so we need to be more vigilant at this time. Below are a few guidelines.
When you are walking your dog ensure you avoid any areas that have been treated with salt. Contact can cause irritation/burns and tummy upsets if they were to lick it off. Snow itself can accumulate between the feet and cause problems. It is therefore a good idea to get in the habit of washing and drying their feet when returning from a walk.
Get to know your dog and how tolerant they are in colder temperatures, their age/coat length/general health should be considered when deciding whether to go for that walk. A coat for your dog may be a good investment at this time of year. Keep yourself safe by wearing reflective clothing and consider a light on your pet’s collar.
With fewer daylight hours and colder, wetter weather you may find that your dog does not get as much exercise as he does in the summer. Obesity is a growing problem in dogs and can lead to other illnesses from chronic to acute. So it’s a good idea to monitor his weight and food intake, as you may need to reduce his food portions to stop him putting on weight over the winter.
Cats are often attracted to the taste of anti-freeze so ensure any containers are securely locked away and clear up any spillages straight away. The chemical is toxic to all pets and can prove fatal if ingested.
Evaluate your outdoor housing for any smaller pets you may have living outside. Guinea pigs do not tolerate the cold very well and can develop pneumonia. Do you have the facilities/space to bring them into the house? If this is not an option, then ensure you provide insulation around their hutches whether your purchase them custom made or you use blankets and bubble wrap. Ensure good ventilation at all times. Regularly check their water bottles are not frozen, insulation covers can be brought, alternatively bubble wrap and an old wool sock can be just as effective.
Many plants that are popular at this time of year can be poisonous so if you are buying/receiving some please do your research and check whether they are toxic to pets. The most common are lillies, ponsettias and amaryllis.
Pets can easily bump into candles and heaters, which may result in a burn or fire. Remember to place candles and heaters well out of reach of pets if using them.
Don’t forget that our favourite foods at this time of year can be poisonous, such as chocolate, nuts and raisins, so please ensure they are kept out of reach. It is always a good idea to familiarise yourself to the toxic hazards on other foods as well if you are a new owner.
Zoe Blake is a registered veterinary nurse and runs The Friendly Pet Nurse.
Call 07917 094715 or visit http://www.thefriendlypetnurse.co.uk for more information.