With a series of strong winter cold fronts hitting Perth and Mandurah over the next few days, RSPCA WA has reminded pet owners to make sure their animals are safe and comfortable.
RSPCA WA Shelter Manager Emily Smith said while some animals coped better during winter weather, they still required extra attention and care at this time of year.
"The winter months can put pets at risk, but luckily there are simple steps we can take to prepare, and make sure our animals stay warm and protected from the wind, rain and cold," she said.
"Cold and wet weather conditions bring a new influx of cruelty reports to our Inspectorate. Last winter, RSPCA WA received over 1500 reports, with common issues being insufficient food, water and shelter, abandonment, and animals in need of vet treatment.
"Protecting your pet this winter could be as simple as providing some extra bedding, food, and somewhere warm and dry for them to escape."
Winter weather pet care tips:
Outdoor pets – always ensure they have proper shelter and a place to sleep away from the elements.
Indoor pets – make sure they have a warm place to sleep away from drafts and also make sure heating units are safe so that pets don’t suffer burns.
Vulnerable pets – often suffer in cold weather and need extra care to keep them comfortable, especially those who are very young, elderly, live outdoors or suffer from health conditions such as arthritis.
Small animals – where possible keep rabbits and guinea pigs indoors as their body temperatures can drop dangerously low in cold weather.
Horses – some require extra warmth and protection so rug horses according to age, breed, type of exercise and the climate, but never leave summer rugs on horses in wet weather.
Farm animals – should be able to move from their paddocks into three-sided shelters to escape the cold, rain and wind. Chickens will need extra bedding to keep them warm.
Shelter – all animals require some type of shelter and must be able to protect themselves from the winter elements. Three-sided shelters for horses and livestock, enclosed areas with warm bedding for others.
Food – animals may require more food during cold weather as it takes more energy to regulate their body temperature in the cold. Consult a veterinarian on what is right for your pet.
Water – access to water during cold weather is still important, so make sure to check outdoor water bowls and troughs and provide more than one water source where possible.
Exercise – animals still need exercise even in colder weather. If your dog spends a lot of time indoors, make sure to provide them with enrichment, such as games and food dispensing toys, to keep their minds active.
For more information about caring for pets in cold weather, which dogs need jackets and when to rug your horse, visit RSPCA’s Knowledgebase.