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Pets in winter

Despite their fur coats, dogs and cats feel the cold just the same as we do. Freezing temperatures can bring a whole set of problems for your pets if you’re not prepared for winter. So here are some tips on how to make sure your pet’s healthy and happy as the cold weather sets in.


  1. Get him a coat
    Jackets aren’t just there to look good – small dogs and short-haired breeds such as Chihuahuas, greyhounds and whippets really do need the extra protection against the cold weather. A sweater or jacket is ideal to keep warm on walks, but if your dog isn’t the sort to tolerate clothes don’t push them.
  2. Watch out for cold winter hazards
    Never walk your dog on ice, especially if it’s a frozen expanse of water, as they could slip or fall in. Your pet might see snow as a novelty, but don’t let them eat it. Also watch out for seasonal dangers, such as antifreeze, which actually smells and tastes good to a dog but is poisonous.  Keep holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants out of their reach as these shouldn’t be eaten either.
  3. Give they a winter groom
    If your dog’s coat is in good condition, it’ll give them the warmth they need for winter. Make sure any long hair is clipped, especially around the feet, so that snow doesn’t collect there and make them even colder when temperatures drop. It’s also a good time of year to take them for a check-up with the vet, so they can check for any problems that could become worse in cold weather.
  4. Feed them up
    Dogs may need extra calories to keep warm in winter, so make sure they’re well fed. They’re just as likely to become dehydrated in cold temperatures as they are in the summer, so make sure there’s always a good supply of water on offer.
  5. Don’t leave them out in the cold
    Despite their fur, dogs feel the cold just the same as humans do. Don’t leave them outside for long periods, and if your dog usually sleeps outside consider bringing them indoors over winter. Keep walks shorter, and wipe their feet thoroughly afterwards as they can be vulnerable to frostbite.


  1. Give them a warm place
    Make sure there’s somewhere extra cosy for your cat to sleep. Cats will curl up next to anything hot to keep warm, and that includes car engines, so always keep an eye on where they are and try to tempt them indoors instead.
  2. Provide plenty of water
    If your cat’s the outdoor type and you usually keep her water bowl outside, consider buying a heated one so that it doesn’t freeze.
  3. Keep an eye on your cat’s safety
    Sadly, cats can put themselves in dangerous positions for the sake of a snuggly place to sleep. If you haven’t seen your cat for a while, check under the bonnet of your car before driving off as they may be curled up on the engine to keep warm. Make sure your cat doesn’t come into contact with antifreeze – it’s tempting to taste, but poisonous, just as it is for dogs. If you think they've been near it, clean their paws before they try to clean themselves.
  4. Limit their time outside
    Cats are notoriously independent, but try to tempt them indoors. You might want to give your cat the option of a litter tray during winter months, so that they’re comfortable staying indoors. If they’re a kitten, unwell, elderly or have any patches of fur missing, they’re best kept at home when it’s freezing.
  5. Watch out for signs of hypothermia
    If your cat’s been out overnight, check how they’re behaving. Watch for shivering, shallow breathing and slow movements, which can be symptoms of hypothermia. Warm them up slowly if you think they’re suffering by taking her to a warm room and wrapping them up in a blanket – never warm them up too fast, as it could be dangerous.

How can John Lewis Pet Insurance help?

If your pet does become ill, particularly in winter, the last thing you want to worry about is a costly vet’s bill. So it’s reassuring to know that John Lewis Pet Insurance offers cover from £3,000 to £12,000 per year.

For further tips and advice, please see our quick guide (PDF).

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John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No. 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Pet Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323). Calls may be recorded and monitored.

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