Vets are warning pet owners to beware of the risks that animals face in cold weather.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) says extra precautions should be taken to ensure dogs, cats and other small animals are kept safe from hidden and potentially fatal hazards as temperatures plunge.

The BVA suggests making sure your pet’s bed is in a draught-free, warm spot off the floor in the house.

For outdoor pets, the hutch or run should be in a sheltered position, away from wind, rain and snow at least 10cm off the ground.

During the colder months, try to walk your dog for shorter periods and wipe its paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.

Wiping your pets’ paws can also prevent them from ingesting toxins that they may have stood in whilst outside. Antifreeze in particular is highly toxic, with almost one in four vets having to treat cats for antifreeze poisoning last year.

Keep the temperature of rabbit and guinea pig homes between 0⁰C and +20⁰C for rabbits (the lower temperature assumes rabbits are healthy and kept with other rabbits, with lots of bedding for warmth) and +5⁰C to +20⁰C for guinea pigs, avoiding too many fluctuations in temperature.

Make sure rabbits and guinea pigs have extra bedding to keep warm.

Line hutches with plenty of newspaper, provide lots of hay and cover with an old duvet/blanket/tarpaulin.

If the weather becomes very severe, consider moving outdoor pets inside to a well-ventilated space with light and room to exercise.

Be aware however, and never place them inside a garage which is in use, as vehicle exhaust fumes are harmful to rabbits and guinea pigs.