As temperatures across the North East drops as cold weather continues, the RSPCA have issued guidance to help keep animals safe.

The RSPCA have issued 15 tips to North East pet owners to keep pets, livestock, and other wildlife happy and healthy this winter.

This comes after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for snow, ice, and fog, which is set to continue until Thursday (December 15).

Speaking on this, Dr Sam Gaines, an RSPCA pet welfare specialist, said the organisation are sharing these tips to ensure the safety of animals across the region.

Read more: Cocker spaniel rescued from cliff ledge in Chopwell Woods

Here are the RSPCA’s top tips:

  1. Keep a close eye on small outdoor pets like rabbits and guinea pigs. if the temperature starts to drop below freezing, you should move them inside. The RSPCA recommends guinea pigs are housed indoors when temperatures are below 15OC. If you do bring your pets indoors, they still need plenty of time and room to exercise safely.


  1. Ensure cats have constant access to the house or to a warm, indoor areas.


  1. Antifreeze and rock salt can be poisonous to pets so keep any stored products out of their reach. If you’re concerned your pet may have ingested anything they shouldn’t, contact your vet immediately. 


  1. If you have a pet who gets wet or cold, rub them dry with a towel and make sure they have plenty of warm bedding. 


  1. If you have an elderly or sickly dog, special coats or jumpers will help them keep warm when you’re out walking.


  1. When walking a dog in the dark or riding a horse, wear reflective clothing and think about reflective protection for your pet.


  1. Keep dogs away from frozen ponds, lakes or rivers which can pose a danger, and make sure their paws don’t get impacted with snow.


  1. If you keep pet birds in aviaries, coops, or runs, then you should also protect them from the cold weather. Provide plenty of additional dry, warm bedding such as straw and cover enclosures to keep the wind and rain out. Birds will eat more to keep warm in cold conditions so ensure the birds always have access to plenty of food and fresh water, ensuring water does not freeze over. 


Read more: Met Office hour-by-hour forecast for North East as snow warning issued

  1. Never house animals, including birds, in greenhouses and take caution if housing them in conservatories. 


  1. If you have a fish pond, check it every day to make sure the surface is not entirely frozen as poisonous gases can build up under the ice. Don’t break the ice as this can harm the fish, but carefully place a saucepan of hot water on the surface to gently melt a hole in the ice. Never tip boiling water straight onto the pond either, as this can also harm or kill any fish living there. And never try to use antifreeze or salt to thaw frozen ponds or birdbaths.


  1. Horses and livestock need extra care in the winter, such as adequate shelter to escape bad weather, extra feed as grass can be sparse, and regular checks on water troughs to keep them clear of ice. Ensure they have access to dry standing areas, and check hooves regularly for loose shoes or signs of problems such as mud fever. Farmers and smallholders should give extra consideration to young animals and whether they need extra protection from the cold weather.


  1. Birds can struggle to find food during the winter months, householders can leave out extra food which is suited to their diet to help.


  1. Keep bird baths free of ice, leave out bowls of clean water, and keep feeders clean.


  1. Carefully check any wood or leaf piles for wild animals such as hedgehogs, frogs and mice before lighting any fires or bonfires. If you find wild animals in hibernation, be sure to leave them be.


  1. Don't leave dogs outside. Owners should make sure their dogs have a clean, comfortable and dry sleeping area with a safe heat source so the temperature does not drop below 10C.”


Read next:

If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here