Expert advice on keeping your pets safe after the clocks change

The clocks go back this weekend.
The clocks go back this weekend.

The clocks are set to go back on Sunday, October 29, at 2am – but you don’t need to wait until then to see a difference in the days, as winter is on its way.

And it’s not just pet owners who feel the chill during winter – the colder, darker days can prove particularly dangerous for our furry friends.

A lack of visibility increases the risk of pets being injured during a walk – especially if they are free to roam off the lead.

“With the clocks changing, it will be even darker in the evenings, making both dogs and their owners less visible to drivers while out walking,” says PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman.

“Cats are also at greater risk too, particularly on busy or poorly-lit roads.”

Pet owners don’t need to live with the worry of letting their pet out when it’s dark, though, and there are ways to reduce the risk of animals being injured during the winter months.

Rebecca explains: “It’s safer to walk your dog during daylight hours, but that’s not always practical for some owners, so if you’re walking in the dark, keep your dog on a lead, especially when walking near roads. Also, make sure you’re wearing high-visibility clothing, and consider a reflective harness, collar or coat for your dog.”

Carrying a torch will also help both pet and owner should you come into any difficulties during a evening walk in winter.

Rebecca adds: “Training your dog to respond quickly to a recall command can also be very useful, as you can get them back immediately if they’re in danger.”

Cats, on the other hand, have a more unpredictable routine and it can be difficult to keep track of them when they have constant access to the outdoors via a cat flap.

“It’s safer to keep your cat indoors at night, especially if you live close to a busy road,” says Rebecca.

“By adjusting their daily routine gradually, such as changing their feeding times, you can help them to settle down and sleep happily indoors through the night.

“Male cats are much less likely to roam if they’re neutered, so speak to your vet for advice.”

Whatever time of year it is, microchipping your pet will also give you a better chance of being reunited with them should they get lost on a walk.

It’s also important to remember that by law, all dogs must have a collar and an ID tag when outside, as well as being microchipped, but the PDSA advises that your moggy should also be chipped too.

“So now is also a good time to ensure your pet is microchipped,” advises Rebecca.

“For dogs, this is a legal requirement, but we strongly recommend cats are microchipped too. If your pets are already microchipped, make sure that the details are held by the database company, such as your address and telephone number, and are up-to-date.”