15 winter care tips for dogs and cats

3rd November 2016

1. Microchip checks - make sure your dog is wearing a collar, an ID tag and most importantly is microchipped. It is now a legal requirement to ensure your microchipping database is up to date with your current address and contact details. If you need help checking this, call in to our practice. We can scan your pet’s microchip and give you information on how to check your contact details.

2. Keep cats indoors – as the nights draw in and the clocks change, it’s always wise to keep a closer eye on the movements of your cat. If you live near a busy road, keep your cat in, especially in the mornings and early evenings during rush hour. On cold, frosty nights, it’s also wise to keep them in the warm.

3. Parasite control - continue using monthly flea, tick, and worm treatments preventives. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we recommend all pets should take these preventives treatments all year round. It’s easier and cheaper to prevent parasites than treat them when a pet’s infested or infected.

4. Food – most pets don’t need their diet adjusted for the different seasons unless they spend more time outside. If you take your dog for longer walks on very cold days, it will be worth giving a bit more food. Cats on the other hand don’t tend to burn up more calories during the winter as they will usually choose to spend more time inside. You may even need to reduce the amount you feed a cat if they are doing a lot less exercise. At Bollington Veterinary Centre our nursing team is always very happy to help you manage your pet’s diet. We can use our accurate weigh scales and suggest feeding plans. Contact us if you need some help.

5. Water - to prevent dehydration, make sure your pet’s water supply doesn’t freeze.

6. Exercise carefully - in colder weather, your dog may take longer to warm up when exercising, so take things slowly at first. Ice and snow may make it more likely that your dog can injure itself when chasing a ball. Our vets see many dogs each year injure their knee ligaments because of slips and twists on the ice.

7. Feet - rock salt, used to melt snow and ice, can irritate the skin and pads. Clean the feet thoroughly after a walk outside using clean, cold water. Uneven, icy surfaces can also cut a dog’s pads, so keep your dog on a lead. If your dog has particularly sensitive feet, we are able to supply some dog boots that can help.

8. Keep away from frozen ponds - never allow your dog to walk on a lake or pond that looks frozen. The appearance of ice can be deceiving and pets can fall through and drown. If your dog does fall through ice, never be tempted to go in after him.

9. Cars - when the weather cools, cats like to sleep near a warm car engine. Make sure you know where your cat is before you start the engine. You may even consider sounding the horn before starting your car.

10. Safety in cars – never leave your dog in a car during extreme weather, hot or cold. We’re all aware of this in the summer months, but don’t forget that in the winter the problems of hypothermia can be equally dangerous.

11. Care with antifreeze - antifreeze can be lethal. It tastes sweet to cats and dogs and contains ethylene glycol, a toxic agent. When you top up your radiator fluid, always clean up any antifreeze if it spills. Contact us on 01625 573375 immediately if you suspect your pet has drunk or licked the antifreeze.

12. Burns and scalds - your dog may be keen to curl up to a hot radiator or open fire on cold days. Take care as burns or scalds can happen quickly, so always use a fireguard in front of any open hearth and keep a close check on your dog at all times. If your pet does start licking at an area of skin that has become particularly hot, place some cold wet flannels on the skin to cool it down and call us to have it checked. Burn injuries can be serious and take weeks to heal.

13. Chocolate – every year at Bollington Veterinary Centre we see dogs that have eaten chocolate and are suffering from some serious side effects. Theobromine, a compound found naturally in chocolate and related to caffeine, can be fatal if eaten in high doses. Always check with us if your pet has eaten chocolate. We need to know how much and what type of chocolate.

14. Poinsettia plant – this is a very popular traditional houseplant with brightly coloured red leaves. The problem is the plant contains an irritant sap. Keep them out of the reach of dogs, cats and rabbits.

15. Holly and mistletoe – these plants are toxic to animals. Any pet that’s eaten them may develop vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive drooling and abdominal pain. Call us on 01625 573375 if you think your pet may have eaten them.