Winter Health For Pets
Find out how to keep your pet healthy and safe in winter.
Keeping pets active and happy in winter is good for their health – and ours! That’s the seasonal message from leading veterinary charity PDSA.
Could you spot the signs of hypothermia (low body temperature)? In severe cases your pet won’t display telltale signs such as shivering. But it will be disorientated and lethargic with shallow breathing and a slow heart rate. Never leave a pet in the car: just a few minutes can lead to hypothermia.
When temperatures tumble small breeds, puppies and older dogs are most likely to suffer from hypothermia, particularly when wet. And whippets, greyhounds and other dogs with low body fat or thin coats are high risk.
Winter coats are recommended, but remember that salt and grit can damage your dog’s feet, as can ice. Doggy boots will help protect your dog’s feet.
To help you keep your pets in peak condition, PDSA has winter pet health advice all wrapped up. Download PDSA Winter check-list (PDF - 149 KB) for pets for tips on safe dog walking, indoor play and exercise and overcoming the chill factor when Jack Frost calls.
- Immediately remove your pet from the cold environment and take them into warm, but not hot, surroundings. Warming up too quickly can be harmful.
- Call your vet practice and follow any advice you are given
- Ensure your pet is dry – if they are wet then dry them gently with a towel
- Gradually raise your pet’s body temperature, either using a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, or a hair dryer on a low heat. Keep the hair dryer moving and hold it at a distance from your pet’s fur, as you would for yourself.
- Your vet will probably advise bringing your pet in for an appointment, and it’s important to do this even if your pet seems to have recovered.
- Guinea pigs should be housed indoors during the winter months. A warm shed or a car-free garage is ideal, but they should still have access to natural light and an exercise run.
- If the weather becomes very cold, rabbits, like guinea pigs, should be moved in to a warm shed or car-free garage.
- Provide extra bedding in the hutch to help keep small animals warm.
- Put a blanket or piece of carpet over the hutch to help keep it warm, but make sure this doesn’t obstruct the ventilation.
- Check water bottles every day to make sure they aren’t frozen.
- If you have to move the hutch in to your house, make sure you keep it away from other pets, stressful noises and smoky atmospheres.
There are 5 links on this page which are in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. In order to view them you will need the free Acrobat Reader software installed on your computer.
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