Don't forget your pets as snowy weather arrives


Freezing temperatures and snow is forecast, so make sure your pets and animals are warm and safe this winter.

Cold weather: Pets

Tortoiseshell Cat Single adult playing in snow UK © RSPCA photolibrary

Keep a closer eye on outdoor pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs. Find out everything you need to know about caring for rabbits in winter.

Cats should have constant access to the house or to a warm, inside area such as an outbuilding or barn with appropriate heating. You should also ensure the cat’s bedding or sleeping area is warm, dry and away from any draughts.

Be aware that antifreeze and rock salt can be poisonous to pets.

If you have an elderly or sickly dog, find out how to care for their specific needs.

When walking your dog in the dark, wear reflective clothing and think about a reflective collar or light for their collar to keep you both safe.

Keep your pet dog away from frozen ponds, lakes or rivers which can pose a danger, and make sure their paws don’t get impacted with snow.

If you keep pet birds in aviaries, coops, or runs, then you should also protect them from the cold weather. Provide plenty of additional dry, warm bedding such as straw and cover enclosures to keep the wind and rain out. Birds will eat more to keep warm in cold conditions so ensure the birds always have access to plenty of food and fresh water, ensuring water doesn't freeze over.

Don’t house animals, including birds, in greenhouses and take caution if housing them in conservatories.

If you have a fish pond check it every day to make sure the surface isn't entirely frozen as poisonous gases can build up under the ice. Find out what to do if the pond is frozen.

Cold weather: Horses and livestock

Horses and livestock require extra time and care in the colder, winter months.

Owners could use waterproof rugs to give vulnerable horses added protection from the cold and wet weather.

If it's particularly wet and muddy, it's important to regularly check hooves, for problems such as abscesses and loose shoes, and legs, for any signs of mud fever. Owners should ensure horses have access to a dry resting area, out of the mud.

Cold weather: Farm animals

Some farm animals such as the hardier sheep and cattle breeds, are able to cope with cold or wet conditions and don’t need our assistance. Find out when you would need to call us.

Cold weather: Wildlife

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

Birds can struggle to find food during the winter months so, to help them stay strong over this period, householders can leave out extra food for them.

Keep bird baths free of ice, leave out bowls of clean water, and keep any feeders and water bowls clean.

Make sure you check carefully any wood or leaf piles for wild animals such as hedgehogs, frogs and mice, before lighting any fires or bonfires. If you find wild animals in hibernation, be sure to leave them be.

Animals suffering

Remember – if you see an animal outside in the cold that looks like it's suffering, take a note of the location, the time and date and contact us on our emergency line 0300 1234 999.

Please be aware that we're currently receiving a higher volume of calls than normal, and some of our officers are snowed in, but we are doing our best to help as many animals as possible. We appreciate your patience and passion for animals.

Read more seasonal advice for winter.

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