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Seasonal advice for winter

Grey squirrel in snow eating a nut © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary

Frozen ponds

If you have a pond, check it every day for ice as toxic gases can build up in a frozen pond.

If a pond freezes over, carefully place a saucepan of hot water on the surface to melt a hole. Never tip boiling water onto or break ice with force, as this can harm fish.

Keep your dogs away from ponds and lakes that are iced over.
Thin ice may break under a dog's weight. Also watch out for dogs' paws becoming impacted with snow, which can cause discomfort.

Feeding birds

Birds may have difficulty finding normal food in winter. Find out more about feeding garden birds.


Keep an eye on outdoor pets. Provide extra bedding and be prepared to move them into a shed or unused garage for shelter. Rabbit winter care advice (pdf 428KB).

Don't house animals, including birds, in greenhouses due to the temperature changes. Caution must be taken if they are housed in conservatories - it must be a suitable temperature.

and rock salt can be toxic to animals. Rock salt poisoning in pets (pdf 101KB).

You may not feel like going for a walk in winter, but the exercise will keep your pet happy and healthy.

Always wear reflective clothing when out walking
 to make yourself visible and don't forget your pets too - fit your dog with a reflective collar.

If horses and ponies are kept outside they must have access to shelter, constant fresh water and some may need a rug. Winter care advice for horses.

Get more great pet care advice.  


Domestic pets, farm animals and wildlife can all suffer as a result of the noise created by fireworks. 

See animals and fireworks.


Disturb piles of garden rubbish before having a bonfire to check for animals, like hedgehogs


  • Don't forget that many Christmas plants are poisonous, including yew, ivy berries and poinsettia: prickly Christmas trees are dangerous too. 
  • Give your pets a treat, but remember too much rich food isn't good for animals. Some seasonal foods, e.g. chocolate/grapes/sultanas/raisins are toxic to dogs.
  • Splinters of poultry bones are dangerous to dogs and cats, as they can become stuck in their throats or even pierce their intestines.
  • Don't ignore your pets' needs while you’re celebrating.