Keeping Pets and Wildlife Warm Through the Big Freeze

As this cold wintery snap continues to grip us all please make sure you take special care of your pets kept inside and out, as well as keeping a close eye on your garden guests too; because even with natural fur coats most animals will be struggling right now.

Now I’ve never been a fan of pets wearing clothes but for dogs with thin coats, the very young or old, or even those pets on long-term medication e.g. for arthritis, they may benefit from a highly-visible fluorescent coat when out walking (pictured).

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In fact, two or three shorter walks may even be better than the one long expedition too; and watch out for iced-over ponds and lakes.

  • Indoors treat your polar pooch to a proper preformed curled-up-doggy-shaped plastic box. Make sure it’s large enough and if in doubt go slightly bigger. Easier to clean than traditional baskets these boxes should be positioned well-away from doors as the slightest draught will turn your dog - who’s closer to the ground – into a miserable bag of shivering bones.
  • Newspaper makes an excellent insulator so line their box first with a few sheets followed by a rug or some old clothing.
  • Most cats love to curl-up in soft squidgy fabric baskets, or better still, those clever beds that hook over a lovely warm radiator.
  • Before getting into your car always remember to bang on your bonnet as some freezing felines will already be taking refuge, even snoozing underneath upon a warm engine.
  • Being wet is never good for our pets, especially when they go to bed all damp, so always make sure you give them a good rub-down after they’ve been out for their evening stroll.
  • Outdoor pets like horses and ponies need plenty of bedding to snuggle in for warmth too, and must be able to stay dry and draught-free; always having access to shelter, plenty of fresh water and, in some cases, rugs and extra food too.
  • Try not to disturb piles of leaves in your garden at this time of year as hedgehogs will still be hibernating, and these places make perfect nesting places for them.
  • Badgers tend to sleep through much of the most severe weather; however, they do not hibernate and will continue their nightly forays to enjoy juicy worms and fruits, as well as foods left out for them like lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruit when the ground is frozen.
  • Squirrels are always thankful for unsweetened or unsalted nuts over winter too. Hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds are their favourites, and for an extra treat, why not throw in some chopped apple, carrots, spinach or even green beans?

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Positively Expert: Marc Abraham

Marc Abraham is a small animal veterinarian based in Brighton, UK. He regularly appears on UK television, radio, and in print. He is the author of "Vet on Call" and "Pets in Need" and uses his media work to promote animal welfare. Marc was voted the UK's Favourite Vet.


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