The ISPCA is reminding pet owners to make sure that they are providing their animals with enough food, shelter and warmth, during the winter months.
It can sometimes be challenging to find the motivation to exercise when it’s cold and wet outside, but it is important for your dog’s health and wellbeing to have mental and physical exercise every day. When out on your walk, ensure your dog is on a lead at all times, microchipped and wearing an ID tag When you’re back from your walk, dry your pet’s skin and paws thoroughly (and in between their toes!). Salt can cause sores to their foot pads and de-icing chemicals are very dangerous if ingested so it is important to remove all residue from their paws. If you think your pet has ingested any chemicals, please contact your vet immediately as it could be fatal.
Cats love to be warm and snug so make sure they have a comfortable space they can curl up in. If your cat lives indoor, make sure their bed is elevated from the cold floor and away from draughts. With outdoor cats, and on very cold days, you might consider locking them in at night for safety. Cats are adept at finding warm places to sleep but sometimes these can be dangerous, such as under the hood of a car. Make sure to check your car for them too before you drive off
You can also provide them with a clean, dry outdoor shelter with bedding for them to use during the day. When your cat comes in from outside, don’t forget to wipe them down to get rid of any excess salt, water, grit and make sure they don’t have any anti-freeze on their paws.
Outdoor rabbit or guinea pig owners should make sure to have a spacious indoor enclosure for them to sleep in at night. Rabbits snuggle with each other to stay warm so it is important for rabbits to be kept in neutered bonded pairs as otherwise they can be lonely and very vulnerable to the cold.
Horses, ponies and donkeys need good shelter for example a warm stable or purpose built field shelter. Most horses and donkeys need to be rugged to protect them in cold and wet weather and it is important to check their rugs every day to ensure they are correctly fitting and not damaged. It is also important to check water feeders daily ensuring their drinking water has not frozen over. Even heavier coated ponies can suffer from rain scald. It is also very important that all equines have a dry hard surface to stand on. The thin skin around their legs is also highly susceptible to mud rash if they spend too long standing in wet muddy ground without a dry area to escape to.
Top tips for taking care of your pet this winter:
If your pet lives indoors, make sure they have a warm area to sleep that is elevated from the cold floor and away from any draughts.
If your pet lives outdoors, it’s essential they have shelter that is well insulated, warm, waterproof and windproof.
When out walking your dog, reflective collars, leashes or tags are all great ways to help motorists see you during dark winter days. Please ensure your pet is microchipped (read more here)
Make sure your pet always has access to clean, fresh water that will not freeze.
For indoor/outdoor cats, bring them in before it gets dark and have a warm space indoors.
Cats that are not on special feeding regimes should have food available at all times, especially in winter because they like to ‘snack’ at regular intervals during the day.