Help keep our pets and wildlife safe in the snow

Reporter Jasmin Martin took this photo of her dogs Pepe and Abbie enjoying the snow in their matching coats
Reporter Jasmin Martin took this photo of her dogs Pepe and Abbie enjoying the snow in their matching coats

With Horsham and Sussex being transformed into a Winter Wonderland, animals charities are offering advice to help keep the furry and feathered friends of our community safe.

Making sure all animals are warm and have food and water available is vital to help keep them survive the winter months.

RSPCA Senior South East Regional Press Officer, Klaire Kennett, said: “We advice people to make sure cats aren’t left outside for long periods of time and are able to get back into the house through a cat flap for example.

“If you’re going to take dogs for a walk make sure they’re kept warm with a coat and keep them on a lead if you’re near frozen lakes.

“With rabbits make sure their hutch is completely covered to keep them warm and if necessary take the hutch into a garage for extra protection.

“Giving them a little extra food.”

A long with making sure our pets are okay, helping the wildlife is equally as important.

Sam Stokes, Media Officer for RSPB in the South East, said: “At this time of year, put out food and water on a regular basis.

“In severe weather, feed twice daily if you can-in the morning and in the early afternoon.

“Birds require high energy (high fat) foods during the cold winter weather to maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights. “Use only good quality food and scraps.

“Always adjust the quantity given to the demand, and never allow uneaten foods to accumulate around the feeders.

“Once you establish a feeding routine, try not to change it as the birds will become used to it and time their visits to your garden accordingly.”

High energy foods recommended include items as fat balls or bird cakes, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

There are also a number of scraps we can feed from our own kitchens including biscuit, cake and pastry crumbs and leftover rice or potatoes are also suitable, excluding chips.

Sam added: “Salty foods are toxic to birds, and bread should only be put out in small quantities as part of a diet – it has no nutritional value and simply fills the birds tummies.”

Water is very important for drinking and bathing, as clean feathers will help to keep the birds warm.

She added: “Tricks to help water from frosting over include placing a ping-pong ball in the bowl which as it bobs about keeps the water moving, and is therefore less likely to freeze. I

“If you need to de-ice a bird bath, never add anything such as salt or antifreeze, a pan of hot water placed onto to slowly melt the layer of ice is best.

“Small birds need to find and eat almost half their body weight in food just to survive each cold night.”

Pictured here are reporter Jasmin Martin’s dogs, Pepe and Abbie, enjoying the snow earlier this morning in their matching coats.