Essential advice for pet owners to keep animals happy and healthy during winter

The winter months can be tough for pets with dark nights and cold mornings. Therefore, it is important to keep them warm, safe, and healthy as temperatures plummet, snow, and rain.

With 55 percent of dog owners unsure how to protect their pet from harsh winter weather, Pets at home has issued guidelines for keeping a pooch fit and healthy.

Dr. Karlien Heyrman of Pets at Home said, “Dogs need to be regardless of the weather or dark outside, but winter hikes can still be made comfortable with prior preparation.

“I highly recommend reflective equipment to make walking in the dark as safe as possible. A self-heated bed is the perfect way to warm you up afterward.”

Here is a selection of tips to keep a dog happy in winter:

Keep yourself and your dog visible while walking in the dark – It is important that other pedestrians and vehicles can see you and your dog. A great way to do this is by using reflective and LED products.

Invest in a winter coat – During the winter season, young dogs, small or toy breeds, and close-cut breeds can feel the cold more than usual. It’s important to keep them warm and cozy.

Keep your pets cozy around the house – Self-heating beds for those cool evenings at home or after a brisk winter walk These are designed to reflect some of your pet’s body heat to create a comfortable environment for good quality rest or a good night’s sleep.

Wash your dog’s paws after every walk – Rinse your paws after every walk to wash off any salt, ice or snow that may have entered. It may also be worth taking a bottle of water with you to rinse paws that come in contact with road salt.

Be especially careful when using antifreeze – Ethylene glycol, a common chemical found in antifreeze, can be quickly fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. Even small amounts are extremely toxic to the organs of the body, including the brain, kidneys and liver. Therefore, be extra careful when using antifreeze and make sure it does not get onto the floor from the car or not be covered after use.

Wash Your Puppy After Muddy Walks – Wet weather means more mud, which, despite our best efforts, can damage your dog’s coat and skin if not cleaned properly. It is always important to wash off any surface mud with warm (not hot) water and to thoroughly dry and brush your dog after walks to keep his coat in good, healthy condition.

Keep their paws clean and tidy – Broken paws are a common problem for dogs during the winter months. So make sure your dog’s paws are protected from the winter cold. You can also include paw and nose balm to prevent cracking.

If you’re too cold, your pet is probably too cold – Never leave your four-legged friend unattended outside in cold weather. He may show signs of hypothermia such as tremors and disorientation.

Not only are dogs needing care in cold weather, winter can also be a tough time for cats, rabbits, small furries, and wildlife.

To keep them safe in the cold season, Pets at Home recommends:

water– – No matter what animal you keep outdoors, one of the most important things to keep an eye on in winter is the water supply. Remember to top it up regularly and to check twice a day that it is not frozen over.

Protection – In the winter months it is imperative to provide your pet with a dry, warm and safe place to sleep. Make sure your outdoor pet shelter is waterproof and well ventilated, from covering your rabbit hutch with a cover to repairing your dog’s kennel.

Clean feeders & nesting boxes – The cold, humid air, birdhouses and possible nesting boxes in your garden can quickly build up dirt, moisture and other debris. This is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. So, clean them regularly to prevent your native birds from getting nasty diseases.

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