Winter Advice for Animals


  • If you have a pond, check it every day for ice as toxic gases can build up in a frozen pond
  • If a pond freezes over, carefully place a saucepan of hot water on the surface to melt a hole. Never tip boiling water onto or break ice with force, as this can harm fish.
  • Keep your dogs away from ponds and lakes that are iced over. Thin ice may break under a dog’s weight. Also watch out for dogs’ paws becoming impacted with snow, which can cause discomfort.

Feeding birds

  • Birds may have difficulty finding normal food in winter.
  • Be careful! Grapes, sultanas, raisins and some artificial sweeteners are toxic to dogs.

    • Suitable seeds and grains (like nyjer, millet, oats, and sunflower seeds).
    • Only feed peanuts if they’re unsalted, fresh and sold for human consumption or by a reputable feed shop. To protect chicks from being fed whole nuts and choking, provide peanuts in good quality mesh feeders.
    • Cooked pasta or rice, boiled potatoes, cheese, uncooked and unsalted bacon rind, raisins and sultanas.
    • Net-free fat or suet balls attract a wide range of species and provide a great boost of calories.
    • Apples, pears and soft fruits are popular and are a great autumn food.
    • Insects such as mealworms or waxworms.
  • Fresh water is essential

    Keep water bowls full of clean water and make sure bowls and feeders are placed far away from bushes and other areas where predators might hide.


  • Keep an eye on outdoor pets. Provide extra bedding and be prepared to move them into a shed or unused garage for shelter.
  • Don’t house animals, including birds, in greenhouses due to the temperature changes. Caution must be taken if they are housed in conservatories – it must be a suitable temperature.
  • Antifreeze and rock salt can be toxic to animals.
  • You may not feel like going for a walk in winter, but the exercise will keep your pet happy and healthy.
  • Always wear reflective clothing when out walking to make yourself visible and don’t forget your pets too – fit your dog with a reflective collar.
  • If horses and ponies are kept outside they must have access to shelter, constant fresh water and some may need a rug.


  • Domestic pets, farm animals and wildlife can all suffer as a result of the noise created by fireworks.


  • Disturb piles of garden rubbish before having a bonfire to check for animals, like hedgehogs.


  • Don’t forget that many Christmas plants are poisonous, including yew, ivy berries and poinsettia: prickly Christmas trees are dangerous too.
  • Give your pets a treat, but remember too much rich food isn’t good for animals. Some seasonal foods, e.g. chocolate/grapes/sultanas/raisins are toxic to dogs.
  • Splinters of poultry bones are dangerous to dogs and cats, as they can become stuck in their throats or even pierce their intestines.
  • Don’t ignore your pets’ needs while you’re celebrating.