Have you been feeling the cold lately? Then it’s likely your furry friend has been too! Here’s a few simple ways to keep your animal safe and warm this winter.

Outdoor pets – always ensure they have proper shelter and a place to sleep away from the elements. 

A senior dog looking at the camera.

Indoor pets – make sure they have a warm place to sleep away from drafts and also make sure heating units are safe so that pets don’t suffer burns.

Vulnerable pets – often suffer in cold weather and need extra care to keep them comfortable, especially those who are very young, elderly, live outdoors or suffer from health conditions such as arthritis.

Small animals – where possible keep rabbits and guinea pigs indoors as their body temperatures can drop dangerously low in cold weather.  

Horses – some require extra warmth and protection so rug horses according to age, breed, type of exercise and the climate, but never leave summer rugs on horses in wet weather.   A cat eating wet food from a bowl.

Farm animals – should be able to move from their paddocks into three-sided  shelters to escape the cold, rain and wind. Chickens  will need extra bedding to keep them warm. 

Shelter – all animals require some type of shelter and must be able to protect themselves from the winter elements. Three-sided shelters for horses and livestock, enclosed areas with warm bedding for others. 

Food – animals may require more food during cold weather as it takes more energy to regulate their body temperature in the  cold.  Consult a veterinarian on what is right for your  pet. 

Water – access to water during cold A rugged horse grazing in a paddock.weather is still important, so make sure to check outdoor water bowls and troughs and provide  more than one water source where possible.

Exercise – animals still need exercise even in colder weather. If your dog spends a lot of time indoors, make sure to provide them with enrichment, such as games and food dispensing toys, to keep their minds active.

Grooming – this is a health and wellbeing necessity, not just for good looks. If you let your dog's coat grow longer than usual during winter, remember more brushing and upkeep will be required. Don't let your dog become so matted that he needs to be shaved bare! 

For more information about caring for pets in cold weather, which dogs need jackets and when to rug your horse, visit RSPCA’s Knowledgebase.