Cold Weather Considerations

As the temperatures drop across the country we need to consider how this may affect our pets to avoid certain illnesses. Just like us, your pets can become ill after exposure to cold temperatures. Here are some points I think everyone should consider.


  1. Take you dog for shorter walks to avoid them getting cold. This doesn’t necessarily mean walking them less, as you can increase the number of walks you take them for.
  2. Keep them on a lead when walking near any frozen rivers or ponds as they are not the best at telling land and ice apart and could fall through the ice. Be sensible where you throw their balls. If ever your dog does get stuck on ice or fall through then call for help before trying to rescue them yourself.
  3. If you dog is young, elderly or has a very thin coat then consider putting a coat on them to help conserve their energy and protect their immune system that may not be 100%.
  4. Salt spread on roads and pavements can be highly irritant to your dog’s paws. To combat this I recommend rinsing their feet off after a walk and drying them off with a towel. Take a moment to inspect the pads and skin in between the toes to check for any sore areas. Your dog may also accept wearing protective booties when they go out for walks.


  1. Antifreeze ingestion is very severe in cats as they appear to like the taste of it. Make sure you do not use any in your garden water features or leave any accessible in the garage. Unfortunately it is almost always fatal as cats do not start showing symptoms before the toxin has severely damaged their kidneys.
  2. Consider keeping geriatric cats indoors when the temperature drops and make sure they have plenty of litter trays to choose from. If they are insistent on going outdoors then make sure they have easy access to get back indoors.
  3. If you cat normally refuses to drink water indoors and prefers the pond water then make sure there is water available when the water in the garden freezes.
  4. Avoid letting you cat walk across areas that you have scattered de-icing salt as this can contain toxic antifreeze. Even with plain rock salt you cat could get ill after cleaning their paws.

Rabbits and guinea pigs

  1. Ideally have indoor areas that you can house them in when the weather drops.
  2. Make sure they have plenty of appropriate bedding so they can keep cosy.
  3. Their hutch needs to be at least 10cm off of the ground to help avoid frost.
  4. If you cannot move their hutch into a well ventilated indoor area then consider covering their hutch with tarpaulin to stop their bedding from getting wet. Make sure that there is still ventilation of the hutch.
  5. Position the hutch in a sheltered area of the garden to help keep them out of draughts or driving rain.
  6. Ensure their food bowl is topped up and that their water is not frozen.


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Deal and Sandwich vet Claire


Hi, I’m Claire and I am a veterinary surgeon working in East Kent. Having grown up locally I was delighted to be able to move home and settle near Sandwich. I love all animals but I mainly treat dogs, cat and rabbits. My lifelong passion for animal healthcare has led me to start this blog in the hope that I can interest your inner animal lover and share some fascinating stories along the way. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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