With summer finally over for another year, what better time is there to highlight some of the important forthcoming winter hazards facing our beloved four-legged friends?
All dogs love walks, needing exercise whatever the weather, but if they're going outside they might appreciate some help staying warm, especially short-haired breeds (e.g. greyhounds), smaller dogs (e.g. dachshunds), as well as older dogs and puppies who can quickly lose body heat. Practical, warm, waterproof jackets are available from most pet shops or online, preferably with reflective strips.
Make sure you give your pooch a good rub down with a warm towel when back home especially if there's snow on the ground, remembering to remove any ice crystals/toxic road grit from feet especially between toes. Please make sure your pet is microchipped too, with your all-important contact details kept up to date.
Switching on central heating often encourages annoying fleas to hatch from eggs in carpets and rugs, so make sure both pets and houses are well protected with products purchased from your vet, i.e. that work!
Car owners will be busy preparing their vehicles for the winter months too so please be aware that antifreeze, commonly used in car radiators, is very tasty to inquisitive pets (especially cats) and more importantly extremely toxic; with ingestion of tiny amounts, e.g. licking off paws, capable of causing irreversible kidney failure and death.
On the subject of cars every responsible dog owner should know never leave their dog in a vehicle during hot weather, but plummeting winter temperatures can be just as dangerous.
Remember, just like us, older dogs and cats tend to feel their joints more in colder weather, so make sure they're provided with plenty of warm bedding. Please report any changes in mobility or lameness to your vet immediately, as stiffness and soreness can easily and safely be treated nowadays, making the upcoming colder months much more bearable.
Cat owners why not spoil your feline friend with one of those luxury comfy beds designed to hook over your radiator; with carefully wrapped hot water bottles placed safely under any bedding as another way to keep your pets nice and toasty.
And if you're the proud keeper of a smaller pet, like a rabbit or guinea pig, please make sure they are kept warm during the colder months by bringing them inside and providing extra bedding if required, as they can be particularly susceptible to falling temperatures.
One of the best (and most fun) ways to ensure your pet stays warm is to provide lots of contact. Holidays usually mean more free time to spend with your animal companions so any excuse for a belly rub is always going to be well received - whatever the season!
On the flipside make sure your pet doesn't get too warm. In front of a roaring fire, with your central heating turned up, and your house fully insulated, pets can run the risk of overheating, especially if you've dressed them in a festive costume or jacket; so please always be aware of signs of lethargy, excessive panting, and discomfort.