(Photo credit: RabbitBreeders.US)
Guest Contributor - Emma Smith
Winter takes a toll on all of us, not least our furry friends who live outside. Common garden pets like rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens are bred to be in the great outdoors; they enjoy the freedom and the elements and don’t want to be cooped up in the house watching The X Factor with us. Despite their love of nature the chill can sometimes prove too much for our furry and feathered friends so it’s important during the winter months to keep a close eye on our pets to make sure they’re getting everything they need. How do you know when it’s too cold for your garden pet?
When There’s A Lack Of Shelter
Our pets are hardier stock then we are and they don’t need central heating or space heaters to brave the cold. They come with their very own fur and down coats that keep them cosy but without a shelter these can become sodden and leave your poor pet shivering. The role of a shelter is to limit your pet’s exposure when they are most vulnerable. Make sure any coop, hutch or run comes with a roof that protects the area where your pet sleeps from rain, sleet and snow so whatever the weather they are always guaranteed a cosy night of rest. If your pets’ shelter is well insulated their own body heat should be more than enough to keep them warm so provide them with ample hay and/or blankets to snuggle into on a frosty night.
When They’re Getting On In Years
It should come as no surprise that older pets, like older people, have a harder time keeping warm in the winter than their spry young friends. Make sure to check on any older pet regularly to ensure they are coping well and if they show signs of illness (low energy or lack of interest in food) then take them to the vet and seek advice on how you can help. When They’re Extra Hungry Fat is nature’s own way of insulting your animal when it’s cold, after all rabbits and chickens lack the funds to head to the high street and upgrade their winter coats! It is natural for your pet to have an increased appetite in the winter as their bodies are burning more calories to keep warm and they’re stocking up their fat stores for chilly nights. Give your pet some extra helpings of food so they always have plenty to eat.
When They’re Taking To Hiding
It is good for your pet to have the run of the garden every now and then to keep them happy, healthy and active but their habits change when they start to get chilly. Outdoor pets look for shelter wherever they can and aren’t as attuned to certain dangers as you or I, they can often be found cosying up underneath cars for a quick 40 winks! Before taking off in your car check underneath to make sure no one’s napping and if they are move them to a more suitable place.
When Their Water Starts To Freeze
Freezing temperatures mean frozen water which could be a disaster for your favourite garden dweller! Check your pet’s water container regularly to make sure it isn’t solid and pay special attention to the spout. Insulating the water container protects it from the cold ensuring your pet always has something to drink, you can use bubble wrap or old towels for a makeshift device or invest in special insulator sleeves to keep the water from freezing.
Don’t Over Do It
It’s important to remember your pet is less bothered by the cold than you are. Look out for these simple signs and continue with your regular care and maintenance and your pet will brace the winter like a champion.
Emma Smith makes sure her chickens are always taken care of during the winter with chicken coops from Eggshell Online, they provide fantastic quality chicken and rabbit houses that protect them from threats and the elements in cosy comfort whatever the time of year.