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The colder weather is well on the way – the sky is grey, the wind is cold and rain is falling. There is nothing better than sitting inside by the heater and even better with your best friend at your side. So how do you avoid your pet turning into a couch potato!

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Get out the lead, put on your parka and head to the park for some exercise. It may be cold but your dog will love being in the fresh air. 20 minutes is usually enough. You can even give your dog some extra warmth by getting them a coat while they are on their walk or spending time outside. If your pets generally go outside, encourage them to do so at least a few times a day – not only to go to the toilet but to get a burst of energy. Leave them out for at least half an hour so they become acclimatised, but be sure not to leave them out for too long.

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Snails become active at this time of year, and ALL types of Snail Bait are extremely toxic if ingested. Signs of intoxication are shivering and shaking which leads to convulsions and death. If you think your pet has had access to snail bait, seek veterinary attention immediately! Please be sure to keep all packets locked away from your pets. If you feel you must use it, ensure that your dog does not have access to the garden until all the pellets are dissolved. Greedy dogs also like the taste of mulch and blood and bone and manures for the garden. If eaten, it can lead to severe gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhoea. Make sure you water these products in well prior to giving your dog access to the garden.  

Make sure that those pets that sleep outside have a nice warm kennel with protection from the wind and rain, turn the entrance away from the wind to help with this. Soft bedding is a must and you can even place a hot water bottle (warm water) in the kennel to help them out. Heating pads and discs are also available to keep pets warm. Remember that bedding should always be raised above floor level. 

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Cats love to snuggle up in a warm place for a nap. Be sure to prevent potential burns by protecting your cats from open fireplaces and heaters. Instead, offer your cat plenty of bedding which is free from drafts and is raised off the floor. There are also fantastic covered soft beds like an igloo available that can also offer wet weather protection so can be placed outside.

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To stay warm, outdoor cats can sometimes sleep on top of warm engines. If your cat has access to your car or garage, be sure to honk your horn or bang on the hood before staring your car. It is important to remember that Coolant (also known as antifreeze), is toxic and can cause kidney failure and even death if ingested. It tastes sweet to cats, so if your cat likes to seek shelter in your garage or car, make sure all containers are locked away and that your car isn’t leaking any fluids.

Don’t over feed! Many pets appetites increase over winter but their exercise levels drop. Outside pets use more energy to keep warm so often more food is needed. Keep an eye on their weight to keep it stable over these cold months dependant on their living conditions.

Remember that older pets can suffer from arthritis and need special attention over winter. The cold weather may make their joints stiff and uncomfortable and jumping may become difficult. For cats, consider moving a chair or similar to act as a ladder so they don’t have to jump as high, and for dogs provide a ramp if you require them to get in the car or up on the bed etc. If you are at all concerned about the comfort of your pet, then come in and we will assess them for joint soreness and advise you of the many treatment options available.