Chief veterinary officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, has issued advice to owners on how to keep their pets and birds warm and healthy as the weather turns colder.
Chief veterinary officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, has issued advice on keeping pets and birds healthy as the weather turns colder.
She said: “Last winter was particularly difficult for animals and we need to be prepared. Pets that live in hutches or cages in the garden are particularly vulnerable and can, on occasion, be forgotten when it gets dark so early.
“Even though guinea pigs and rabbits are covered in fur, they will suffer in low temperatures if owners do not take sensible precautions.
Pet owners have also been warned that hutches offer little protection from the cold, and without plenty of dry bedding rabbits can be at risk of hypothermia.
Where possible, owners have been urged to bring rabbits indoors, or at least into a garage/outbuilding in bad weather.
And Dr Glossop added: “If you have fish outside, float a large ball on the pond’s surface so that if the water freezes you can remove it, allowing your fish to get enough oxygen.
“Don’t leave cats and dogs outside in this weather and when it starts to get icy, don’t let them lie on frozen ground for long. Dogs still need exercise, but go for shorter walks more often if you can, and if your dog or cat gets wet, dry them with a towel as soon as possible. Cats are generally good at looking after themselves as they tend to stay inside in the warm, but there are still some potential risks to their health in the cold weather.
“Cats that usually go to the toilet outside can sometimes be reluctant to go out in the cold so they hold on to the point that it can be dangerous. Retained urine increases the risks of blockages and urinary tract infections. To reduce the risks, make sure you offer at least one clean litter tray in an easily accessible place. If you have any concerns speak to your vet.”
Dr Glossop also pointed out that wild birds needed extra help with access to food in these weather conditions: “Ice makes it difficult for birds to find food and water, so feeding birds with nuts, seeds, or high quality kitchen scraps and making sure they always have access to water could be key to their survival. Providing them with fresh water is equally as important. Putting out nesting boxes can also provide them with some much-needed shelter.”