Protect your pets in the cold weather

When you’re throwing an extra blanket on the bed, or pulling on a extra pair of socks before braving the outdoors, don’t forget to take extra precautions to protect your dogs and cats from the cold winter weather.

Just as with humans, exposure to extremely cold temperatures for extended periods can cause illness in pets, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has warned.

Cats keeping warm

To avoid this, vets are asking owners to consider putting a coat on older dogs or those with thin fur to keep them warm. When you return home after a walk in the snow or ice, it is important to wipe dogs’ paws and belly to remove any traces of ice or grit, and remember to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.

Older cats should be kept inside during extreme cold snaps and even healthy, young cats must have easy access to shelter and warmth, the BVA said. It’s also vital to store and use antifreeze products carefully, and clean any spills thoroughly, because antifreeze poisoning can be fatal to cats even in small amounts.

“Most of us will be wrapping up a little warmer over the coming weeks and it’s important to remember that freezing temperatures and icy conditions also call for extra precautions to protect pets,” said BVA president Justine Shotton.

“During the coldest months, dogs and cats need easy access to shelter and warmth, and while dogs will still need exercise, owners should take precautions to protect them from the cold.

“Antifreeze is a huge hazard for cats, so contact your vet immediately if you see signs of poisoning such as vomiting, depression, lack of coordination, seizures and difficulty breathing.”

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