With flood warnings in place, dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust is providing top tips and advice on how to keep our four-legged friends happy and safe.
Tamsin Durston, Canine Behaviour Officer at Dogs Trust, said: “Extreme weather of all kinds can be distressing for dogs. Signs to look out for include pacing around the home, excessive barking, or trying to run and hide.
“There are steps owners can take to comfort their dog and help them cope if their dogs are becoming anxious. If you’re worried about the weather, keep your dog indoors as much as possible.”
- If you are able to head out safely, always keep your dog on a lead so they can’t run off and get into difficulties.
- Consider heading out at different times if you can, to avoid the worst weather.
- If your dog loves water and part of your walking routine involves playing in water, change your walking route which will help to prevent your dog getting frustrated if the usual play opportunities aren’t on offer. A new route will make things interesting for them, but you could also introduce games such as laying treat trails for them to sniff out, so their brains are getting exercised too.
- If you are near an area that may flood, be aware that flood water could contain raw sewage, and might be contaminated. Keep you and your pet out of it as the water could contain toxins, which could be dangerous to your pet if swallowed, and could remain on their coat if not bathed properly after the walk.
- Even if you head out in comparatively calm weather, as the conditions could get worse very suddenly, consider wearing a high-vis jacket yourself and using a reflective collar and lead or a high visibility coat or flashing collar to increase your dog’s visibility.
- Regularly check that your dog’s leads, collars, and harnesses are all functioning safely and not at risk of wear and tear damage during bad weather.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped, the contact details are up to date, and your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag whilst out walking, so if they do get lost, they can be reunited with you.
- If the weather is disrupting your dog’s exercise routine and you are having to take shorter walks, when you are back home, activities such as a toy filled with food so that they can use up some energy playing and ‘exploring’ for food, often work well. Games like this can also be a great distraction from any unsettling sounds.
- Provide a safe hiding place in your dog’s favourite room, perhaps under a table, if your dog seems concerned by the weather conditions. Close the curtains, turn lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to mask the sounds of heavy rain. If your dog wants to hide, don’t force them to come out of their hiding place, allow them to stay where they feel safe.
- Make sure your dog has the opportunity to get dry and warm when they are home. Pop a towel on the floor and encourage them to lie on it to get the worst of the wet off their fur, or alternatively gently dry your dog. If your dog isn’t used to being towel dried, feed them tasty treats whilst drying them and at first only dry them for a brief amount of time, building up the time gradually. If they show signs of being uncomfortable being towel-dried, stop.
- Keep an eye on older dogs as cold, damp weather might make them feel a little stiffer than usual.
- Some dogs might begin to become anxious when heading out for a walk if they have been unsettled by the weather previously. Any dog showing behaviour change should have a vet check to rule out any underlying medical conditions or sources of pain. Once this has been ruled out, they can then be referred to a behaviourist for support in helping them feel, and behave, differently.
- Always talk to your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health in extreme weather.
For more information and advice visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/advice