For cats and dogs, give beds plenty of blankets and position away from drafts. Make sure fires have fire guards and that bedding does not touch. Cats love a cosy hideaway – radiator beds (that hang like a hammock over a radiator), donut or igloo beds are particularly warm. If your cats are window-watchers then pad a shelf near to the window so they can sit warmly and still enjoy their ‘patrol’.
Dogs still need exercise, but take a little extra care when out and on your return. Don’t be too quick to wrap your dog up, coats are not always needed - they have their own coat after all! But puppies, older dogs and smaller toy breeds may need it. Signs that a coat is a good idea: if your dog is shivering, trying to hide in sheltered areas or behind your legs, with their tail tucked under and with very cold ears and body. Make sure the coat doesn’t restrict movement and fits along the whole body.
One of our dogs wearing a lovely donated fleecy coat during a cold spell last year
Wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes. Grit or rock salt can be extremely toxic to dogs and cats if ingested.
Afterfreeze spilt from people topping up their cars is toxic to cats and dogs. Don't allow your dog to drink from car park and road puddles.
Take care with your own bottles – clear up spillages completely, keep them in sealed containers away from pets – cats may even seek out the liquid because of its sweet smell. You can switch to a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Although it's safer because it is more bitter, be aware that it is still toxic.
If you see your cat or dog acting as if drunk (uncoordinated, drowsy, groggy, disorientated) take them to a vet hospital immediately as the first few hours are critical.