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In the depths of winter it is more important than ever to care for your pets properly. Here are some tips to make sure that your pet is safe and well-looked after in the cold months.

Keep them warm and dry

The most obvious threat to pets during the winter months is suffering from cold temperatures. If you wouldn’t stay out long during bad weather yourself, then your pet mustn’t either. Cats should be kept indoors during very cold weather, and you may need to provide extra litter trays. If you have a dog that normally sleeps outside, consider bringing it in until the weather warms up. When they’ve been outside and wet through from rain or snow, it’s important that you dry them off with a towel. Although buying clothes for your dog may seem ridiculous, the dog jumper or waterproof jacket can in fact be essential in cold weather. If you keep a pet like a rabbit in the garage or an outhouse, make sure it’s warm and dry.

Monitor food intake for your pets

Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors in cold weather will use more energy. So they may need to be given extra food. Extra protein is essential to maintain their energy levels. Some pets dislike drinking very cold water in the winter. If you have a garden, leave extra food out for the birds or a hungry badger to help it last through a spate of frosty weather.

Watch out for poisons

Every year, pets are poisoned because of increased used of chemicals in the winter. This may include antifreeze, or road salt put down on pavements. Make sure you store any products well out of reach of your pets, and wipe up any spills straight away. Signs that your animal may have ingested a poison like antifreeze include vomiting, being off its food, excessive thirst, and staggering movements. If your animal walks on road salt, it may become trapped on the paws, so wipe your pet’s feet when it comes inside. The main thing is to avoid pets licking their paws to remove any irritants.

Plan ahead

If you are making a plan to keep your family safe during cold weather, make sure you include the needs of your pets. Floods, power cuts or very heavy snow may force you to relocate to friends, relatives or even a hotel. Plan ahead, just in case, to make sure that your pets will be welcome too. If you have tropical fish in a tank, and there is a power cut, you may need to keep the water warm by wrapping the tank in blankets for insulation. Keep the water oxygenated by using an ordinary bicycle pump for ten minutes in each hour, to move the water around, or invest in a cheap filter that can be run off a batteries. If you are going away, make sure that you ask a neighbour or friend to come and feed your pets.