The Essential Winter Pet Survival Guide

If like us, you have stalactites hanging from your nostrils, you will have noticed that it’s mighty cold out there. Just like us people, pets have different needs in the colder months so in the spirit of embracing this baltic weather, we have asked our favourite pet experts to impart their best bits of advice on keeping pets happy and healthy in winter.


1. “Remember all the grit about on the roads and pavements can irritate  your pet’s paws causing sore pads. If they groom it off, it can make them unwell so always rinse off feet after being outside. This goes for dogs on walks and cats that hang out on the pavement.” Zaila Dunbar, Queens Park Vets.

2. “Keep your dog on a lead if it is snowing very heavily.  Snow can be disorientating and can affect a dog’s sense of smell so he can easily become lost.” Hannah Baker, Dogs Trust.

3. “Ensure  your dog is safe and seen out walking with a high viz jacket that offer 360 degree visibility. Road accidents go up 25% in winter months due to a lack of visibility. Equafleece offers a waterproof covering that keeps the dog at its optimum temperature whilst glowing in the dark.” Anna Webb, The Barking Hour, BBC London 94.9.


4. “Maintain regular grooming to prevent matting as there is nothing more traumatic for pets in winter than having their hair shaved short due to matted fur.” Janine, Hyde Park Vet

5. “Take care of chapped and chafed paws. Dogs paws take a battering in winter and salt and grit will burn and cut sensitive pads. Best to soak paws in warm water post winter walk, dry and coat with a paw balm to replenish the moisture.” Anna Webb, The Barking Hour, BBC London 9.49.

6. “People are often worried to carry on with their dogs grooming regime in the winter but cuts can be adapted to accommodate for the winter months.” Kate Lloyd, Great & Small Grooming

natural healing paw balm for dogs by wildwash


7. “Don’t be too cool to put a coat or fleece on your dog during the freezing months. Dogs are a product of our desires and needs therefore we should help do for them what they would do naturally in the wild – i.e grow a thicker coat or undercoat.” Kate Lloyd, Great & Small Grooming.

8. “Use sweaters that are 100% wool as much as you can as it will keep your dog drier and warmer. Sweaters are good for when they are running about outdoors as they don’t restrict their movement with vigorous play.” Lilly Shahravesh, LoveMyDog.

Blue Wilmot Dog Jumper by LovemyDog

9. “Get the fire on. After a long cold walk in the park our dogs like nothing better than a deep snooze in front of an open fire – usually curled up in their own dog beds but admittedly sometimes on the sofa too!  Don’t forget to keep checking they’re not too hot and use a guard against sparks.” Jeremy Cooper, Bone & Rag

10. “If rabbits or guinea pigs are usually housed outdoors, it’s best to bring them indoors or into a unused shed over winter, but they will still need free access to a secure exercise area. If keeping rabbits’ outside, their home should be placed in a sheltered position, facing away from the prevailing wind and rain” Calie Rydings, RSPCA.


11. “Antifreeze is highly poisonous but tasty to dogs. Keep it well out of their reach and mop up any spills.” Hannah Baker, Dogs Trust.


12. “Pets also need to keep warm in winter so it’s important they have warming foods, especially if your dog is prone to cold like greyhounds. Also, make sure their drinking water is at room temperature so they still drink plenty of fluids too.” Henrietta Morrison, Lily’s Kitchen

13. “Don’t forget that many cats, dogs and bunnies will be less active in winter and less willing or able to go outside during the cold short dark days, so cut their food down a little to accommodate this and ensure they have plenty of stimulation and play inside the house so they don’t get fat and lazy in the winter months.” Zaila Dunbar, Queens Park Vets.

14. “Add flaxseed to a dog’s meals – this targets the skin and works like a moisturiser from within. Going from centrally heated homes into the cold plays havoc with dogs skin, making it dry and itchy just like ours.” Anna Webb,  The Barking Hour, every Thursday, 3-4PM, BBC London 94.9FM

For warming winter coats and and sweaters, check out our seasonal edit in the StyleTails Store


Sara is the Founder & Editor of StyleTails. A writer, design-lover and long-time animal-hugger, Sara launched StyleTails in 2012 to inspire people live a more beautiful life with their four-legged friends. Along with her canine sidekick George, a rescue Yorkie with a big attitude, Sara regularly commentates on luxury pet product and lifestyle trends and has been featured in Elle Decoration, BBC Radio, and is also an expert contributor to WGSN, the leading design trend forecaster.

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