With the end of May just days away, winter has reached our doorstep. The mornings are getting chilly and rainy days are on their way! It is important that we keep our beloved pets safe from this cooler weather so here are some tips and information to make sure your pets are kept warm, dry, and comfortable.

Provide shelter

Where possible, keep your pets indoors when it is cold outside, especially during extreme weather like thunderstorms.

If keeping them indoors isn’t possible, or if they prefer to spend their time outside, ensure that they have sufficient shelter that protects them from rain, frost and wind.

Outdoor kennels should be windproof, waterproof, and raised off the ground to prevent flooding.

Vulnerable pets, such as small or older animals, often suffer greater in cold weather than their larger or younger counterparts and should be kept indoors, as their body temperatures can drop dangerously low.

Farm animals, despite having thick winter coats, should have appropriate shelter to protect them from the elements. Sheep, horses and other animals should be able to move from their paddocks into three-sided shelters to escape the cold, rain and wind.

Provide warm, dry bedding

Inside the house, ensure that your pet’s bed is both elevated off cold surfaces and (if necessary) padded with extra blankets to keep them warm. Always make sure that their beds are away from any draughty windows or doorways, and that they are safe from burns from your heating unit.

Rabbits, guinea pigs and farm animals like chickens will benefit from some extra bedding in their enclosures to stay cosy. If your pet sleeps outside, check their bedding daily and replace if it is damp.

Provide more food that's packed with nutrients

It’s no myth that animals get hungrier in winter—they have to burn extra energy to keep their body temperatures regulated. You can provide extra nourishment or snacks over the winter months, but consult with a veterinarian on what is right for your pet so you don’t accidentally overfeed them.  

Consider a warm winter coat

While many dog breeds have thick fur to keep them warm, it may still be a good idea to dress them in a coat when they’re outside or out on a walk. Greyhounds in particular require some kind of thick clothing, as their breed predisposes them to have less fur and body fat to retain heat compared to other kinds of dogs.

Make sure your pet is comfortable, as some dogs dislike clothing, and that the coats are snug but not so tight that they restrict your pet’s movement. A rugged horse grazing in a paddock.

It is also a good idea to dress horses in rugs to keep them warm and dry. Check often to ensure that the rug you put on your horse is dry. Always replace a wet rug.

Be consistent with exercise

It’s not always easy going out for a walk with your pooch in colder weather, where rain and frosty weather can make things difficult. Without exercise, your dog may go a bit stir crazy. Your dog will still need exercise, so why not take up some indoor activities to keep them stimulated? Teach them a new trick, play some games, or provide them with some mental enrichment toys. Your day at home need not be tricky!

Don't forget about grooming!

If your dog or cat grows a thicker and longer coat during winter, always remember that more brushing and upkeep will be required to keep them happy. Poor maintenance can lead to fur matting, which is best dealt with by shaving. Don’t allow your pet to reach the point where being shaved bare in the middle of winter is the best option—keep their coats well groomed!

Some pet owners may be unaware of the health risks associated with cold weather. If you’re out and about and see a pet left in the cold, kindly alert the owner of your concerns. If they respond in a negative way or simply ignore any advice, ring up and file a report with your local ranger or make a cruelty report with RSPCA WA. Every animal has the right to a warm bed and protection from the weather.