Make 2023 a year in which you support PDSA
Expert advice from Nina Downing on pet care is vital for pet welfare and care as we enter further into 2023.
As we kick off 2023 and a new chapter begins, many of us will be making New Year’s resolutions in the hope of improving our own lives and the lives of others.
A great way to achieve both of these aims is to support the vital work of charities by lending a helping hand as a volunteer.
Each year, 3,000 people kindly donate their time to PDSA, the UK’s largest veterinary charity, supporting the life-saving work of our 48 Pet Hospitals.
A wealth of opportunities are available in our charity shops for people who are aged 18 or over and can spare a few hours a week.
PDSA Volunteering Business Partner, Jennie Pearson, said: “Our volunteers are an amazing group of people who all contribute something very special to PDSA. By giving us the gift of their time, they are helping us to support owners who would otherwise struggle to cover the cost of unexpected veterinary bills if their pet became ill or was injured. Their efforts quite literally mean that families can stay together.”
“We offer a warm and supportive environment for all of our volunteers. As well as enabling people to give something back to their local community, volunteering also helps individuals to improve their confidence while enabling them to develop skills in retail and customer service which can increase their chances of securing future employment.
“We are always on the lookout for friendly and enthusiastic people to join our team. You don’t need experience - we provide training for each role - you just need a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. We will also reimburse any expenses incurred so you won’t be out of pocket.
Charity shop volunteers
“Our charity shops are vital to PDSA. They provide much needed funding for our Pet Hospitals, so they can continue to help thousands of the nation's most vulnerable pets. There are lots of different roles available, whether you would like to help customers with their shopping, sort through donations, create eye-catching window displays or serve at the till. To find out more about volunteering in our shops visit www.pdsa.org.uk/volunteering-in-our-shops.
Essential contribution – The efforts of our kind-hearted volunteers have never been more important, with demand on our services expected to grow as the cost of living crisis hits communities and people continue to feel the squeeze. If you would like to make a positive difference to your own life and the lives of others by lending a hand at PDSA, please visit our website to find out about the opportunities available.”
Nina Downing answers your pet questions
Dear PDSA vet, my Guinea pigs Suzy and Sooty live outside in their cage. Should I bring them inside during cold January weather? Ed
Hi Ed, pets who are used to living outside may find the warmth in our homes quite a stark contrast, so a half-way house such as a shed or car-free garage, protected from draughts, rain and snow, is ideal if possible.
If there is no option but to keep hutches and runs outside, drape a blanket or piece of carpet over the open mesh door of their living quarters to keep out strong winds, driving rain or snow.
You will need to make sure that there’s plenty of fresh air for your pets though. You can also insulate outside walls with newspapers covered with plastic sheeting but make sure this doesn’t obstruct the ventilation. Pet-safe microwavable heat pads are available to help keep hutches warm.
Dear PDSA vet, can I still walk my dog Rupert in the snow and ice? From Molly
Hi Molly, yes, you can still take your dog out for a walk in the snow as it’s important for them to stay active even in colder weather.
However, snow and ice can build up on dogs’ paws and cause them discomfort. Prepare paws by keeping hair between pads trimmed so there’s less hair for snow to gather on.
When you get home from your snowy walk, check Rupert’s paws and soak off any snow in warm water. It’s also a good idea to rinse off any grit or salt they may have picked up on their feet.
Remember to be really careful when out walking in freezing conditions. Frozen ponds and lakes can be enticing for an excited dog but they can easily fall through the ice and get into serious trouble in the freezing water. To ensure your dog is safe, keep them on a lead.
Dear PDSA Vet, as it’s Veganuary I was wondering if my dog Bruce can have a vegan diet? From Sarah
Hi Sarah, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, it can be a real moral dilemma as to what to feed your dog! Dogs are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plant-based foods, but it’s much more difficult to provide them with a properly balanced diet when you’re not using any animal products at all.
So, if you want to try a vegan or veggie diet for Bruce, we advise choosing a commercially produced food that’s been designed by expert veterinary nutritionists and has been properly trialled to ensure it provides everything he needs to stay healthy. If you’re not sure if this is the case, ask the manufacturer.
Never try to make dog food at home without advice from a specialist veterinary nutritionist. If Bruce has any other dietary requirements, speak to your vet before changing his diet.