From bright flashes and screeching fireworks on Bonfire Night to the excitement of Christmas Day, the winter holidays can be a worrying time for pet lovers. No matter how excited we are about the festivities ahead, being worried about your dog or cat can put a dampener on any plans.
No matter the time of year, pet owners are always thinking about how to keep their pets safe. Whether it’s checking the temperature of pavements in a heatwave or watching everything they pick up, looking after your pet can seem like a full-time, year-round job.
The specific risks of winter can often be overlooked . Here are some of the most common hazards you may be unaware of:
Keep a close eye on your pets’ paws as they can get irritated or suffer minor abrasions because of grit and other chemicals used to grit roads. Check their pads on a regular basis and use a warm, damp cloth to clean them if you’re concerned.
Dogs and cats with short coats can get cold quickly and even get frostbite or hypothermia. Speak to your vet about your pet’s breed and whether you need to be concerned.
Some pets – both cats and dogs – don’t like snow and may be reluctant to head out for their usual exercise. If the cold snap holds on, you may find your pet starts putting on weight. If so, adjust their food portions or speak to your vet.
Antifreeze can leak from a car radiator and is extremely dangerous – be extra vigilant of your pet going anywhere near driveways or parked cars. If you think they’ve come into contact with any chemical, go straight to your vet.
Winter often means there’s plenty of sweet and fatty foods around. Although these are comforting for humans, you need to be careful with your pets as some can be toxic and they shouldn’t eat them.
In dogs, anxiety is often shown through trembling, tucking their tail between their legs, diarrhoea and excessive anxious behaviour such as licking or biting themselves. They are more prone to separation anxiety than cats who tend to be more naturally independent. This can mean they howl, cry or bark constantly when you leave them alone. Not only is this annoying for your neighbours, but it can also be stressful for your dog.
To address this anxiety, you need to establish the cause of their stress. It may be that you’re leaving them alone for too long, they’re not getting enough stimulation while you’re away or certain noises are upsetting them without you there to comfort them. Once you know the cause, you can work to create a calmer environment for them. This will often have to be done slowly so you’re never pushing your dog too far out of its comfort zone.
It’s always best to speak directly to your vet to establish what’s triggering separation anxiety, but these are some top tips for the short term:
Whether it’s Bonfire Night, Christmas or New Year’s Eve, there’s sure to be fireworks going off throughout the winter months. Fireworks are a common cause of stress for pets but understanding how you can comfort them can make a massive difference.
Fireworks are noisy and startling, particularly to cats and dogs who have acute hearing. Here’s how you can take care of your pet’s wellbeing, though seek advice from your vet if you are worried: