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Don't forget your animals in the snow and cold weather

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The RSPCA is warning people to think of their animals in cold weather and to make sure they are safe and warm.

Here's some advice from the RSPCA: 

Pets

Don't forget to keep me warm & safe 

If the temperature drops towards freezing, consider moving rabbits and guinea pigs inside or somewhere like an outhouse, shed or garage.  The RSPCA says guinea pigs should be moved indoors when temperatures are below 15%

Don't forget rabbits and guinea pigs will need time and room to exercise safely.

If you have to leave rabbits  and guinea pigs outside, give them lots of beeding such as dust free hay.  You could cover hutches with covers - just make sure there's plenty of ventilation.  Hutches should be 4 inches off the ground and put in a sheltered position away from wind and rain.  

Cats need constant access to somewhere like a home, outbuilding or barn with appropriate heating.  Bedding and sleeping areas should be warm, dry and out of the way of draughts.

Elderly or sickly dogs can have a special jumper or coat when they are outside, but they need to be able to go to the loo easily and it should fit well.  

Reflective clothing is very helpful if you're out in the dark.

Keep your dog away from frozen water such as ponds and lakes, and check that paws dont' get impacted with snow.

Birds in aviaries, coops or runs need to be protected too - give them lots of additional dry, warm bedding such as straw and cover enclosures to keep the rain and wind out.  Give them plenty of food and fresh water and make sure water doesn't freeze over.  They should not be housed in greenhouses and you should take care if you put them in conservatories.

Check fish poinds daily to ensure the surface doesn't freeze over.  If it has frozen, carefully put a saucepan of hot water on the surface to gently melt a hole in the ice - don't tip it over

Antifreeze and rock salt can be poisonous to animals, say the RSPCA

Horses and livestock

 Don't forget us, either!

Give horses and livestock enough shelter to escape bad wethaer - be prepared to give them extra feed and good quality fibre because there may not be much grass.  Check water troughs and buckets are free from ice.

Use waterproof rugs to protect your horses from cold and wet weather

Check hooves regularly in very wet and muddy conditions to watch for signs of absesses, loose shoes and legs - mud fever may arise.  Horses need access to a dry resting area out of the mud.

Wear reflective clothing when on the roads, and if you're riding in the winter, bear in mind that horses who work up a sweat may catch a chill.

If you may get cut off by bad weather and not be able to visit your horses and livestock, you need someone who is reliable and experienced to get there to check on them for you.

Young animals may need extra protection in bad weather - as will the older ones. 

Wildlife

Brrrr!   Think of us, too! 

Leave extra food out for birds (we are currently feeding ours twice a day at the moment) - they can have suitable seeds and grains.  We're finding ours are loving sunflower seeds and suet balls.

Keep bird baths ice free and leave out bowls of clean water - it's important to keep feeders and bird baths free

Leave animals in hibernation alone.

Check wood and leaf piles for wild animals such as hedgehogs, frogs and mice before you light any bonfire

If you see an animal outside in the cold that looks as though it's suffering,make a note of the location, time and date and call the RSPCA Emergency Line on 0300 1234 999.

Visit the RSPCA's website for more information on caring for animals in different seasons

All photos here copyright of the RSPCA

 

 

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