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Keep your pets safe from the elements this winter

14 June 2019

SPCA’s best tips to keep your pets safe from the elements this winter

It’s officially winter and SPCA is urging animal owners to take special care of their pets during the colder days.

With temperatures dropping below zero in some parts of New Zealand this winter, it’s important to make sure your animals are safe from the cold, rainy and harsh elements.

Over winter, approximately one fifth (18%) of the total number of animal welfare complaints reported to SPCA involve shelter related issues, such as no shelter or inadequate shelter being provided to animals. The most commonly reported animal involved in shelter complaints are dogs (66%) followed by goats (105) and horses (8%).

“Make sure that your pet has somewhere warm to curl up, don’t leave your animals out in the cold, and have some rainy day enrichment activities ready to go,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.

“Pay special attention to your older pets as they can find the cold weather more of a challenge, especially those with arthritis. Remember they may find it difficult to walk on slippery surfaces, and make sure they have plenty of surface padding when sitting on their arthritic joints,” she says.

SPCA reminds pet owners to keep informed about the weather and during heavy wind and rain, bring your pet inside.

SPCA’s top tips on how to keep your pet safe this winter.

Make sure your pet has somewhere warm

A cosy bed is a must to ensure your pet has somewhere warm to curl up during the cold months. Cats love the security of an igloo (an enclosed pet bed), horses can really benefit from a winter coat, and don’t forget extra bedding for your small animals. Heat pads are another great way to keep your pets warm over winter. Never leave electric pads on when you are not there and always make sure your pet can move away from the heat pad if they want to.

Exercise your pet, rain or shine.

Winter is a great time to explore local beaches that are off-limits to dogs during the summer! Cats will be less likely to venture outside in the colder months, so providing them with physical and mental stimulation indoors is important. You can do this by entertaining them with wand toys, balls to chase, or giving them levels around the house to jump up on. Rabbits and other small animals will also need a dry, safe and warm area to run around.

Rainy day activities

If it's too wet outside, there are plenty of ways you can keep your pet entertained indoors! Food enrichment such as puzzle feeders or kongs are a great way to keep your dog, cat or rabbit entertained. Wobblers, puzzle toys, and food dispensers are designed to encourage your pet to work for their food and can be found at most pet stores. Training is also a great way to keep your pet entertained and it’s not just for dogs – cats, rabbits, and other small furries can all benefit from reward-based training!

Helping your older animals during the winter

Arthritic animals will be more comfortable if they have a bed that has plenty of padding for sore joints. Arthritic and elderly dogs may have more difficulty walking on slippery surfaces such as wet ground, snow or ice. Check with your veterinarian to find out what steps you can take to help your older pet feel more comfortable during the winter months.

Warm and dry shelter

Adequate shelter is necessary year-round, but it is extremely important when it's rainy or frosty outside. If your pet is outdoors, it's essential that they have shelter that is well-insulated, warm, waterproof and windproof. Raising the shelter off the ground will prevent moisture inside and keep it much warmer. Make sure your pet’s water bowl is placed somewhere that it will not freeze and check regularly.


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