Winter Safety Advice

Animals are very sensitive to the cold in the same way that we are. With more extremely cold weather on the way it is very important that they are not forgotten about at this time of year. Please read the following tips to ensure your pet avoids unnecessary illness or injury this winter:

·  Animals have the ability to adapt to cold weather reasonably quickly. The cold temperatures cause the body thermostat to rise so that sufficient heat is produced to keep the animal warm. Pets kept indoors are not exposed to the cold and therefore are more susceptible to it when they are outdoors. Owners should bear this in mind when walking their dogs in cold weather. Young and old animals should only be outside in the cold for short periods of time, or have a pet coat on.

· Remember to check your pets feet when they have been outdoors in snow or frosty weather. Ice or snow can become matted in the hair between the pads causing discomfort or possible cuts and grazes. Walking on salted paths and roads can cause the pads on your dogs feet to become dry and chapped. This irritation can make the dog lick at its feet, and if the salt is ingested it can cause gastrointestinal upset. Pet owners should wash their dogs feet in warm water after an outing, and also dry off the coat especially the legs and stomach.

· Pets that are kept outdoors are at a greater risk of hypothermia from the cold. Pets should be provided with a properly insulated shelter with extra bedding such as blankets or straw during the cold spell. Wood shavings are not suitable as they can cause skin irritation in some dogs.

· As a result of the stress on the body, animals as well as people have reduced resistance to infections. Respiratory, stomach and bowel infections are more common during the winter months. Take precautions this winter by treating your pet with an effective wormer and pay special attention to controlling fleas. Feeding a properly balanced diet is one of the best and least expensive ways to maintain good health. Ensure vaccinations are up to date, and if you have any concerns about your pets health consult your veterinary surgeon.

· Older pets, over 7 years old, are generally more prone to disease and should have regular check ups and special care during the winter months. Arthritis can be aggravated by cold and damp weather so pets with this condition will need extra care and icy walks should be avoided.

· Throughout the year, animals are at risk from traffic. With the dark evenings and icy road conditions, roaming dogs and cats are more likely to be injured or killed in a road traffic accident. Cats often seek out the warmth of car engines during the cold winter months. Many cats sleep beside the fan belt and can receive serious and often fatal injuries if they are still there when the engine is turned on. Knocking on the bonnet of your car or beeping the horn before starting your car should frighten a cat out and save it from injury.

· Antifreeze is very attractive to dogs and cats due to its sweetness. Poisoning is more common during the winter months and signs include weakness, vomiting and lack of appetite. In a short time convulsions can develop leading to coma and eventually death. Unfortunately successful treatment is very rare.

If you have any concerns about your pet’s health then do not hesitate to call the clinic on 061-419760.

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