Animal Talk | Caring for pets in winter

The colder weather is finally falling upon us and despite many animals having fur coats, they can still suffer from frostbite, exposure and dehydration in the winter months. Even our lovely native animals can find the colder months a little bit harder.

COLD COMFORT: They may have fur, but they can still feel the cold. Make sure you have made your pets a warm place to spend their days and nights during winter.

COLD COMFORT: They may have fur, but they can still feel the cold. Make sure you have made your pets a warm place to spend their days and nights during winter.

To help get through the colder months we’ve put together some helpful tips for how you can help both your own animals and the wildlife.  

Shelter:

Keep your animals inside as much as possible. While you’ll still have to take your dogs for walks, and your cat might not be too impressed, keeping them inside during the coldest parts of the day is ideal.

Make sure to dry your pet when they come in from outside. You wouldn’t want to sit around in a wet coat and neither does your furry pal. Give them a hand – and a towel.

If your pet is unable to be inside, make sure they have access to a winter-proof shelter. Ensure its slightly raised off of the ground to keep it from getting wet and frosty and place it in a location where it’s most likely to get maximum sun exposure.

Give them jackets. Not only is it super-cute, but they’re also very practical. Also, if you regularly clip your pets in the summertime, allow their hair to grow back to keep them warm. Just make sure to brush them regularly so it doesn’t become matted. 

Driving:

Wildlife is most active around sunrise and sunset and can wander onto roads. Please mind your speed and keep an eye out for animals at all times. As the days get shorter, their movement schedule and rush-hour traffic tend to overlap even more.

If you have a crash or near-miss collision with an animal, flash your headlights to warn other drivers that there may be danger ahead.

If you hit the animal and safety permits, please pull over to the side of the road. Don’t touch the animal unless safe to do so. Contact a local veterinarian, ACT Wildlife or the ACT Government Rangers (for kangaroos) by calling Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

Make sure to check under your car before driving anywhere. Your car can be a nice warm spot for animals looking for relief from the winter cold. If you think there may be an animal hiding but can’t see them, make some noise to warn them away from possible danger.

Food, water and company:

In cold weather, animals actually burn more calories than during the summer time to keep warm and may need a larger portion of food to combat this. If you’re unsure how much they should be fed, speak to a veterinary professional for some advice.

Don’t leave your animal alone in a cold house for extended periods of time. If you’re going away overnight take your pet with you or organise for someone to look after them. 

If you have a fireplace please make sure that it’s clear and not the home of birds or possums before you start it for the first time this season.

Remember: a change in season is tough on animals too. You can help them by remembering these tips.

  • Tammy Ven Dange is the CEO of RSPCA ACT.

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