Winter advice for dog owners in north Antrim

BARK (Benvardin Animal Rescue Kennels near Ballymoney have issued advice about how to ensure your dog is comfortable this winter.

* Know your dog’s susceptibility – not all breeds are the same, some can withstand colder temperatures than others. Also bear in mind that older dogs, or dogs with certain ailments such as arthritis, will be more susceptible to cold weather.

* Keep them indoors whenever possible, taking them out only for exercise and toileting. (They also love the company!) Young puppies should never be left outside in cold weather as they don’t have the ability of older dogs to keep themselves warm outside.

* If you can’t keep them indoors, ensure that their kennel/bedding area is dry and sheltered from cold winds.

* Dog jackets are great especially for smaller and shorthaired breeds. A waterproof coat is ideal for winter walks.

* Make sure their bedding is dry and raised slightly off cold floors to avoid drafts.

* Straw or sawdust make a great lining for beds as they are great insulators and also stay drier than many other forms of bedding.

* If you normally clip your dog’s coat, allow it to grow over the winter as this is your dogs natural way of conserving heat. Be sure that you groom your dog well as matted hair will not be as effective at keeping out the cold and wet.

* In very cold weather reduce the length of your dog’s walks – you can keep up your dogs exercise and mental stimulation with indoor games such as tug-of-war, fetch and why not use the time to teach them some new tricks?!

* If you bath your dog, make sure that you towel dry him thoroughly and keep him warm until he is completely dry.

* This one isn’t specifically about keeping your dog warm but we feel it’s important to mention – make sure that you keep anti-freeze out of reach of dogs (and other pets). It has a sweet taste and is therefore appealing to dogs but it is highly toxic. If you dog does ingest it, seek veterinary attention immediately.