Keeping Your Pets Safe and Healthy This Winter



Now that winter is upon us, it’s important to ensure your pets are keeping warm, happy, and healthy. Don’t let their adorable fur coats fool you: pets are not immune to the cold! If you feel a noticeable chill in the air, chances are your animal companion does too.


Keeping Pets Warm, Dry, and Safe

Dr. Liz Arnott, RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian, emphasises the importance of the three W’s – Warm, Waterproof, and Windproof – for any animal sleeping outside. Whether you’re looking after farm animals or outdoor pocket pets, remember to follow these guiding principles when keeping your animals safe.

Warm: Provide plenty of blankets and bedding to keep your pets protected against the elements.
Waterproof: Ensure that your animals’ bedding is dry and protected from dampness, taking care to make sure they’re covered and elevated from the ground in the case of rain.
Windproof: Make sure their shelter is secure and protected from drafts and high-speed winds.



During winter, it may be tempting to turn into a couch potato, but giving your animals regular exercise remains important all year round.

If it’s too cold or rainy outside, you could play indoor hide-and-seek, buy a food-dispensing toy, or do some trick training to keep them engaged. For more enrichment resources and ways to exercise your pet indoors, have a look through our website and keep your animals happy and fit.

Additionally, your pets can just as easily become dehydrated in winter as they can in summer. Be sure your furry friend has easy access to fresh drinking water and remember that snow is not an adequate alternative for your pet.


Increased Appetite

During winter you may also notice an increase in your pet’s appetite. This is normal, as animals require more energy to maintain their core body temperature during the colder weather. Be mindful to watch your pet’s weight though as too much food can lead to obesity problems.

Be sure to choose a brand of pet food that will provide them with all the nutritional benefits they require to remain healthy. We recommend and feed our animals the food of Royal Canin, the Official National Nutritional Partner of the RSPCA. For all other animal types please speak to your local veterinarian as they will be able to recommend what food would be best suited for your animal companions nutritional needs.


Addressing Health Concerns in Winter

Winter weather can exacerbate certain medical conditions, particularly osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. For affected pets, cold and damp conditions can make symptoms worse. If your animal companion shows signs of stiffness or is otherwise expressing discomfort, consult your vet for advice on managing their condition during colder weather so that you can develop strategies to help alleviate their pain.


Safety Around Heaters and Fireplaces

If you use a heater or fireplace to keep your household warm, it’s vital to ensure they have grills or screens to prevent your pet from getting burned. It’s also worth keeping your animal’s bedding away from heaters and fireplaces to avoid any risk of injury or a fire breaking out. The unforgettable golden rule, that you and your animals should both abide, is always

“stay at least a metre away from the heater”.


Watch Out for Rodenticides

As more rodents sneak into homes seeking warmth during the winter, the colder months often see an increase in the use of household rodenticide. However, please note that these substances can be highly toxic to pets. If using rodenticides, ensure they are placed in areas inaccessible to your pets.


Always Check Under Your Car

During the winter months, cats, in particular, may find your car to be a warm and inviting spot to cuddle.

Many have been discovered hidden beneath the hood, on top of the wheels, and in other tight spots in vehicles. To avoid hurting any cats seeking warmth, don’t forget to look under your car and beat on the hood before starting your engine.

Even if you don’t have a cat, this is a good idea if you park on the street as stray cats may seek your car for shelter.


Don’t Leave Pets in the Car

Due to their smaller body sizes, pets are not able to generate heat as well as their owners. As a result, their core body temperatures can quickly drop several degrees if left inside a cold vehicle.

In cold weather, a car behaves like a refrigerator, and soon your car will become colder than the air outside, leading your pet to freeze.


You can never be too prepared to keep your animals safe, happy, and warm. For more information on pet care, animal health, and winter tips, visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase or consult your veterinarian.