SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Preparing your pets for winter


  • All animals need extra shelter and extra feed in winter, especially older animals. Good covers or coats are advisable when exercising older dogs, especially if they are short-haired or thin-skinned.
  • Ideally, dogs should be able to come inside where it is warm and sheltered in the winter. If dogs are outside, they should always have access to a warm and weatherproof kennel. Use extra bedding in the kennel and change it frequently enough to make sure it is always dry and fresh. Block draughts and fix leaks. Put the kennel in a sunny, dry, sheltered area facing away from the prevailing wind, and place it where there is an interesting outlook to provide your pet with some sensory stimulation.
  • Check that your dog will always have ready access to a bowl full of clean, fresh water that will not freeze.


  • Cats are pretty good at finding sheltered places to sleep, so make sure they can always access a comfortable indoor area. Check cat flaps to make sure they are working properly.
  • Cat beds, such as igloos that give the cat a safe and warm space to snuggle into, are great in the winter time.
  • Cats that are not on special feeding regimes (e.g. on a weight loss diet or specific health related eating plan) should have food available at all times, especially in winter because they like to ‘snack’ at regular intervals during the day. Cats on special feeding regimes should be kept on their specific diet with advice from their veterinarian.
  • It is important that they also have access to fresh, clean water and that this does not freeze.
  • If your cat isn’t already desexed, make an appointment with your vet to have this done well before the next main breeding season in spring.

Older pets

  • Many older animals suffer from arthritis and other conditions which may cause them to struggle in the winter. Please check in with your veterinarian to see what can be done to help them cope better with the winter weather. You can read more about how to help your arthritic pet cope over winter here.

Caged birds

  • Make sure your bird cage has a sunny, draught-free corner of a room with an interesting outlook.
  • Birds living in an aviary should ideally be moved inside.
  • It is important that a temperature appropriate to the species of bird is always maintained in the area where the birds are housed. The birds must not be exposed to wet, draughty, or damp conditions as this can cause them to get sick and also be very uncomfortable.
  • Access to adequate quantities of good quality species-appropriate food should be available to birds at all times.
  • It is important that they also have access to fresh clean water and that this does not freeze.
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