Pet owners are being encouraged to bring their cats and dogs in overnight as Ireland is hit with its coldest week in many years.

Heavy snowfall is expected during the week as temperatures plummet.

The ISPCA has put together some important tips for keeping your pets safe and warm during the cold winter spell.

DOGS


ISPCA Public Relations Manager Carmel Murray said: “Consider bringing your dog for more frequent shorter walks to avoid being outside in the cold for too long. Especially some smaller, thinner and older dogs as they have a harder time keeping warm and may be a little reluctant to head out on very cold days. You might consider a dog jacket to keep them warm. Also it is important to bring any outside dogs indoors in very cold and wet conditions”.

It is important you dry your pet’s skin and paws thoroughly after a walk, and don’t forget in between the toes! Salt can cause sores to their foot pads and de-icing chemicals are very dangerous if ingested so make sure you remove all residue from their paws. If you think your pet has ingested any chemicals like anti-freeze, it can be fatal so please contact your vet immediately.

Ensure you keep your dog on a lead at all times especially in snow.

CATS

While indoor-only cats will be affected very little by the cold weather, outdoor cats will certainly be feeling the chill this week! You may consider keeping outdoor cats in more over the winter, especially on very cold days, and locking them in at night for safety. Cats are great at finding warm spots to sleep, but sometimes these can be dangerous, like under the hood of a car so make sure to check your car for sleeping kitties before you drive. You could also provide a clean, dry outdoor shelter with bedding for them to use during the day. When your cat comes in from outside, wipe them down to take off excess water, salt, or grit, and make sure they don’t have any anti-freeze on their paws.

BIRDS

It is also important to look after our wildlife too so please leave out some fresh drinking water and suitable food for them. Helping garden birds can be as rewarding for you as it is for them. By using bird tables and handing feeders with seeds and grains such as nyjer, millet, oats and sunflower seeds, you can bring wild birds right up to your window!

HORSES, PONIES & DONKEYS

Horses, ponies and donkeys need good shelter for example a warm stable or purpose built field shelter. Most horses and donkeys need to be rugged to protect them in cold and wet weather and it is important to check their rugs every day to ensure they are correctly fitting and not damaged. It is also important to check water feeders daily ensuring their drinking water has not frozen over. Even heavier coated ponies can suffer from rain scald. It is also very important that all equines have a dry hard surface to stand on. The thin skin around their legs is also highly susceptible to mud rash if they spend too long standing in wet muddy ground without a dry area to escape to.

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