The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is warning pet owners to take precautions ahead of the storms and high winds forecast this weekend.

The inclement weather predicted over the next three days could pose a threat to all animals, said the charity, and is urging pet owners in the areas forecast to be worst-hit to keep a close eye on their animals.

According to the RSPCA, in some parts of the country, there have been reports of cats being lifted into the air by strong gusts, while dogs have got swept away in flood water during walks.

RSPCA companion animal scientist Alice Potter said: “Extreme weather like we’ve been seeing can spell trouble for animals as well as humans. We urge pet owners to keep an eye on the weather forecast in their area and plan ahead to make sure their animals are safe.

“It might be necessary to keep cats inside if the winds become very extreme. People should remember to make sure they have everything they need, especially places to hide, and a litter tray if they don’t usually have one.

“Dog owners should plan walks so the extreme weather can be avoided, and dogs should be accompanied at all times. Two or three shorter walks may be a better option to avoid being out in the wet weather for a long period of time.”

Most of the advice is common sense, said Dr Potter. “But it is very easy to forget the obvious, especially since this weather has been going on so long we have become almost too used to it.

We can all take simple steps to help animals at this time, however, our inspectors are on-call around the clock so they can help if the worst should happen.”

Other tips from the charity on how to help animals this weekend include:

  • giving dogs with thin or sparse coats an external coat when outdoors
  • moving outdoor pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, indoors to a garage or shed
  • making sure rabbit hutches are waterproof, draught-proof and placed in a sheltered position – they may also appreciate some extra hay to burrow into to make them feel more secure; an
  • moving horses, ponies and donkeys into stables.

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