Sunscreen, shade and sunset walkies: Vets issue urgent heatwave advice as temperatures set to rival 2018 record
15 Jul 2022
As the UK faces freezing conditions, BVA shares advice for keeping pets safe and warm.
As temperatures plunge across the UK, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued a warning to animal owners to take measures to protect pets from a range of winter hazards which could lead to serious illness. Extended exposure to extremely cold weather and accidental ingestion of toxic grit and antifreeze are amongst the most concerning.
BVA, which represents almost 20,000 vets across the UK, has issued top tips to help pet owners keep their dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and other companion animals warm and safe over the winter months.
“It is staying cold with daytime temperatures remaining only a few degrees above freezing in many places over the coming days and overnight temperatures dropping to -10°C or lower in isolated spots. Although below average, these temperatures are not that unusual for this time of year but nevertheless, can be impactful for people and their pets. We have a number of snow and ice warnings in place at the moment."
“When it’s cold for us, it’s cold for our pets, which is why it’s important to take extra precautions to keep them safe and warm.
“During the coldest months, dogs and cats need easy access to shelter and a cosy den, and while dogs will still need exercise, owners should take precautions to protect them from the cold. Antifreeze is a huge hazard for cats, so contact your vet immediately if you see signs of poisoning such as vomiting, depression, lack of coordination, seizures and difficulty breathing.
“Rabbits and guinea pigs are also vulnerable to hypothermia despite their warm coats, so owners should take steps to ensure any outdoor hutches are well protected from the snow, cold draughts and winter rain.
“If you have any concerns about your pet in this cold weather, please consult your local vet for advice.”
Take precautions during and after dog walks: Dogs still need exercise in the cold months but consider putting a coat on older dogs or those with thin fur to keep them warm during walks. Wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes. Grit or rock salt can be extremely toxic to dogs and cats if ingested.
Avoid antifreeze poisoning: Wiping your pets’ paws can prevent them from ingesting toxins that they may have walked through whilst outside. Antifreeze in particular is highly toxic for cats, even in small amounts. Apart from use in car radiators and de-icing products, some cases are thought to be linked to ingesting diluted antifreeze used in ornamental water features to protect the pumps. Store and use antifreeze products carefully and clean any spillages thoroughly.
Provide a warm, draught-free shelter:
Care for your horses: Avoid sudden changes in management and diet for your horse in winter. The use of rugs will depend on the breed of horse and whether they are clipped— owners should be mindful to avoid over-rugging.
Check water sources: Check water bottles, bowls or outdoor troughs regularly, as these can freeze when the temperature drops.
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