Well where to begin? With the current news stories it can feel like we are lucky to survive winter at all, and that there are pitfalls everywhere! So let’s have a practical reality check…

Credit: Chris Radzinski
Credit: Chris Radzinski


Salt on roads and pavements is an irritant to pads and tissue, so make sure you wash your dog’s feet after a walk (or your cat, if they’re brave enough to venture outdoors). Simple paw cleaning with a damp then dry towel is all that is needed!

Overdosing on salt can also be a danger – although, oddly, salt toxicity is noted more from eating homemade play-doh than from our roads. Homemade play-doh contains large amounts of salt to make it last longer, so should be treated like normal food stuffs and kept out of a dogs reach.

Sub-zero temperatures

The cold weather is not nice for anyone! Dressing up dogs with thin coats is now essential and not a fashion statement! Especially those with tums close to the ground…

For older pets arthritic joints can hurt more in the cold weather, so check where their bed is – out of draughts and near a heat source is best. Also, consider a heat pad, but advise clients to avoid the novelty ones that come with a bed. The ones from PetSavers, or the ones you use in practice are best. Plug in, wipeable, limited to 38°C for safety, and can be left on overnight. They’re safe, they work and they last for ages!

Small furries

As traditional outdoor pets, small furries need more care at this time of year. If they are to remain outside they need extra bedding, better shelter and more water resources. Water needs to be checked 3-4 times daily to avoid freezing. Single bunnies or Guinea pigs need even more warmth as there is no-one to snuggle with, so moving them into a shed, garage, or even into the house, is advisable.


The lucky ones live in tropical luxury all year round. For our Mediterranean tortoises we need to decide whether we are hibernating or providing heat and light to overwinter. The Tortoise Trust website can be really helpful in helping make such a decision.

Tales of frozen eyes after inadequate insulation during hibernation, and nibbled toes after mice and rats have discovered a sleeping tortoise are true, so if you do hibernate, keep them safe!

We actually overwinter our tortoise as she is young and was dehydrated and wormy when we got her. That was three years ago, but that isn’t long in a tortoises metabolism! She lives in a plush insulated shed with a heat lamp, UV lighting, hot-spot and nice thick substrate. Even on the coldest days she is reaching 26/27°C… if it were any bigger I’d be in with her.

Top winter tips and always welcome here, and credited to the sender! Do any of your clients take winter care seriously?

Keep safe – nurses, pets, everyone!

View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of


related content

Graham Finch hates doing dressings, so passes the torch to RVN colleague Laura for her "top tips" on the subject of dressing wounds.

2 mins

Although “off-licence”, immunotherapy is well worth considering in our pruritic feline friends. Of course we … more

3 mins

Ever had one of those cases, which seem to typically occur around this time of year, that you think must be the start of an allergic dermatitis?

2 mins

David Cameron has praised a pioneering vet for “undoubtedly changing the fate of scores of vulnerable animals”.

6 mins

We recently had an elderly cat that presented with typical signs of hyperthyroidism. However, as is sometimes the case, total T4 proved stubbornly normal on two estimations a couple of weeks apart.

1 mins

Have you ever had a puppy that just presents with lethargy, exercise intolerance and sleeps … more

2 mins