With a sudden drop in temperature and frost starting to form on the ground it’s more important than ever to consider your pets and how the change in weather can affect them.
To ensure that pet owners are fully informed and aware of what they can do to keep their animals happy and safe this Christmas The Met Office have released their top tips for winter from Clare Hamilton, Managing Director at Hamilton Specialist Referrals – a state-of-the-art animal hospital which provides specialist treatments for orthopaedic and neurological diseases in cats and dogs.
Sharing six tips to see your feline and canine friends through the winter months, Clare shares that its important to employ a ‘best practice’ when the temperature drops starting from the ground up.
Protect those paws
Whilst it might be tempting to head for the freshly gritted paths on icy morning walks, the salt can actually get easily lodged between toes and claws resulting in blisters on paw pads. Clare recommends a pair of paw pads, or snow boots if your dog is happy to wear them. If not, consider applying a paw balm to their pads to provide add an extra layer of protection to their little feet when walking across gritted or salted routes on their daily walks.
If we’re lucky enough to get some snow this year, be aware that whilst you’re all out enjoying the flurries consider your pets paws once more. Snow can clump together, freezing and catching between their furry toes and claws – this is a particularly common issue with long-haired breeds of cats and dogs, with the snow forming painful ice balls on their feet. To avoid this ask the groomer to trim away any long hairs which could become matted.
Wrap up on walks
Just like us, your dog may benefit from wearing a dog coat or jacket when they head out on their winter walks. Fine-coated breeds of dog can feel the chill in the same way we do and it’s worth checking in with your vet too see what they’d advise. With Clare advising that it’s important to avoid dressing your pet in jackets or clothing whilst they’re in your home as it can ‘impact their ability to regulate their own temperature.’
Incase you missed the memo, antifreeze is highly toxic and has sadly been known to be poisonous to both cats and dogs. If ingested this can proved deadly. Clare shared that oddly enough cats seem to be attracted to the taste of the liquid which is often found in screen washes and de-icers. Avoid using any if possible or, if you must, store safely away from the reach of inquisitive paws.
Update your microchip
Use the festive period as a reminder to check and update your pets microchip. With cats known to wander and seek out warm, cozy places and poor visibility responsible for dogs going missing on winter walks this information is vital. Without an updated address on the system you can jeopardize the chance of being reunited with your four legged friend.
Check the garage
Yours and other people’s pets are drawn to shelter over the winter months with cats in particular seeking out refuge in sheds, garages and out houses. Keep an eye out for any cats that have been reported missing – especially under car bonnets.
Words by Sarah-Rose Harrison