Brrr it's cold outside! Top tips for pet owners this winter

The wind is picking up, the rain is setting in and temperatures are dropping as winter settles in. Spare a thought for our furry companions.

Key points

  • Pets feel the cold and need care and attention to keep them warm and healthy
  • Pets need different care to weather the winter indoors and outside
  • Coats, bedding and supplements are available

If you are starting to feel cold and uncomfortable, then your pet is likely feeling the same way. Luckily, there are a number of simple ways you can keep your pet safe and warm this winter.

The RSPCA has these tips to keep furry friends cozy and warm.

Winter Coats

Although many cat and dog breeds have luxurious thick fur to keep them warm, when they are outside or on walks in the cold, they will still likely benefit from an additional winter coat. This is especially important if you have a thin, older or short haired breed. 

A good pet-coat or jumper will give coverage from the neck to the base of the tail while also giving protection to their belly. Make sure your pet’s coat is the right fit and isn’t restricting movement. Check out World for Pets range of dog coats to suit all shapes and sizes.

Remember, don’t leave your pet’s coat on once they are in a heated indoor environment as they may over-heat under all those layers!

Better bedding

As the weather gets cooler, you might notice your pet is spending more time snuggled up in their bed. You can make a few simple adjustments to their bedding to ensure they are properly protected from the cold. 

Make sure your pet’s bed is away from drafts and elevated off cold, hard surfaces. You should raise the bed off the ground and add an extra blanket for warmth and comfort. Try not to place the bed too high though, as cold temperatures are especially tough on older dogs or cats with stiff joints who may have difficulty in movement after long periods of rest.

You can place a heating pad or disc in their bed (avoid hot water bottles as there may be the temptation to chew!) to gently warm up the bedding and create a cosy, warm and safe sleeping environment. 

Check out RSPCA World for Pets range of Cat and Dog Beds.

The great indoors

If your pet spends a lot of time outside, then appropriate shelter is essential. Pet stores like RSPCA World for Pets have a great range of kennels for dogs and enclosures for cats. Choose a spot for your pet’s housing that is protected from the elements in a warm elevated position. Fill your pet’s shelter with dry blankets that are washed regularly.

If your dog is usually kept outside, you could bring them indoors to sleep at night, somewhere warm and dry, away from cold drafts and damp.

Keep on moving

Your dog or cat still needs exercise and boredom busting stimulation. Keep playing indoors with soft toys or a ball to get the blood moving. Both Cat toys and Dog leads are stocked by RSPCA World for Pets.

Or, brave the cold, grab the lead, put on both your winter coats, and head out for a brisk walk together! Your dog will still love the joy of their walk even if it’s a bit colder, and you will feel better for the exercise too.

Heat seekers

Cats are notorious for finding warm spots around the house, like the afternoon sun through a window, or sitting close to heaters. Dogs too will seek out sources of heat during colder weather. Be wary of your pet sitting too close to heaters or fires as they can fall asleep and end up with dried out skin or worse, burns. 

Pet heating pads and disks are a safe alternative that can be placed in their bedding or on a favourite chair. This will become your pet’s favourite warm spot this winter!

Senior pet care

Cold weather can be harder on our older cats and dogs as, just like with people, the drop in temperature can aggravate joints stiff with arthritis. You should be mindful of keeping a healthy exercise regime during winter without over-doing it. Dog walks should take no more than 20 minutes a day over even ground. Exercise encourages good circulation and develops muscle tone. Extra weight on your pet will only worsen joint pain.

Make sure your pet has a warm, comfortable rest area away from drafts and elevated off cold, hard surfaces. If you notice your pet is showing signs of discomfort associated with arthritis, you should take them to their vet for a check-up. Signs of pain or discomfort include stiffness, chewing or licking certain joints, difficulty walking up or down stairs, eating slowly and noticeable behavioural changes.

Your vet may recommend a number approaches to help treat arthritis:

  • Supplements: There are natural supplements of Omega 3 fatty acids, like 4Cyte™, you can get from your vet to give your older dog at meal times. This will encourage healthy joints and help to reduce stiffness.
  • Medication: Your vet may recommend a regimen of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Injection: Many owners of older dogs have seen great improvements in their pet’s arthritis with a 4 week injection course of a product with pentosan eg; Cartrophen Vet. The frequency of treatment varies from once a year for mild cases and up to three times a year for severe cases of arthritis. Cartrophen Vet is a prescribed veterinary medicine which is provided by your vet.