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Dogs Trust's guide to keeping dogs safe and warm in the chilly winter weather

WITH plummeting temperatures returning this week, it is important to make sure our 4 legged friends are prepared for the cold. After a fairly mild winter so far for most across the UK, temperatures are set to drop below 0°C over the next few days, with snow expected in some places.

Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, is issuing guidance to owners about how to keep your dog safe and warm during the cold snap, including how to avoid potential hazards on your winter walks.

Runa Hanaghan, Deputy Veterinary Surgeon at Dogs Trust, said:- "There are lots of simple things you can do to help your dog stay safe and warm during cold weather, however, there are things owners need to watch out for too which may be hazardous for our dogs. Winter walks can be a lot of fun, but it's important to exercise caution when conditions worsen by keeping your dog on a lead and taking steps to improve their visibility with the darker nights"

Winter Health Advice:-

  Antifreeze is highly poisonous to dogs. Keep it well out of their reach and mop up any spills immediately. Always seek veterinary advice if you are concerned your dog may have licked or ingested any, from the spill or their paws.

  Never leave your dog in a car during extreme weather, hot or cold.

  Make sure you wipe your dog's legs and feet when you come indoors after a snowy walk. The grit from the roads can irritate their feet. Grit can also be dangerous if your dog licks its paws. Again, seek veterinary advice if you are concerned your dog may have licked or ingested any.

  Particularly important if you have a puppy, short haired or old dog in providing them with a sensible winter coat to stay warm when you go out. Consider letting your dog's winter coat grow to improve their warmth, it can still be kept brushed and untangled even when it is thicker.

Winter Walking Advice:-

  Keep your dog on a lead if it is snowing heavily. Snow can be disorientating so they might easily become lost.

  Make sure your dog is microchipped, the contact details are up to date, and your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag whilst out walking, so if they do get lost, they can be reunited with you.

  As the nights are dark, consider using a reflective collar and lead or a high visibility coat or flashing collar to increase your dog's visibility in the dark. Owners can use a torch and wear high-vis jackets too!

  Do not let your dog walk on frozen ponds. The ice may not be thick enough to take their weight. If your dog does fall through the ice never be tempted to go in after them; call the emergency services immediately.

  Regularly check that your dog's leads, collars, and harnesses are all functioning safely and not at risk of wear and tear damage during winter weather.

  Snow can freeze between dog's paws and owners might find ice stuck to the bottom which can be uncomfortable and make it difficult for them to walk. Rinsing and drying their paws after walks is very important.

Keeping your dogs active in winter:-

  If you are spending more time indoors if the weather's bad, always make sure your dog has plenty to do; long lasting tasty chews, or puzzle-toys such as durable food-releasing toys and snuffle mats are useful for giving your dog something enjoyable to do without needing your constant attention.

  You can provide entertainment for your dog when parks are closed by walking different ways to your normal route, so they can experience new sights, sounds and smells.

  Incorporate training sessions within your walks; take treats with you and reward your dog for doing a trick along each street you walk down. Bring their favourite toy and have a game outside if there is a safe place to do so while they are safely on-lead.

  You can play these types of games indoors too; try hiding their toys for them to search for and playing with them as a reward when they find them.

  Treat your dog to some fun and games that are educational and valuable by enrolling them in a Dogs Trust Dog School training course! We offer short training courses for puppies, adolescents and adult dogs teaching important skills in a fun and positive environment.

For further information on keeping your dog safe and happy over the winter, visit:- DogsTrust.Org.UK.

Major fund to tackle loneliness and boost volunteering in disadvantaged areas launched

LAUNCHED by the Government working in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund, Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and UK Community Foundations (UKCF), the:- 'Know Your Neighbourhood Fund' will support local organisations in 27 areas to increase their offer of projects that enrich lives to help improve wellbeing and social connections.

Recent research has revealed that adults were more likely to report feeling lonely if they lived in a deprived area, and that areas with higher rates of unemployment tend to have higher rates of loneliness.

Volunteering opportunities help to connect communities, help people to develop skills and grow their networks; and help public services serve local communities.

With locations including:- Barnsley, Middlesbrough and South Tyneside, funding will help develop volunteering programmes, provide 1-1 support for vulnerable residents, fund new activities such as arts and crafts, sport and coffee sessions, and support social community events amongst other projects.

Examples of the beneficiaries include:-

  Groundwork is a federation of charities aiming to create vibrant, green, neighbourhoods. Thanks to funding of £25,000, more volunteering opportunities have been created in the garden, café, reception and library at their Grange Park Community Hub, Blackpool. This offers volunteers the chance to develop skills, socialise and connect with their local community, with funds providing training and 1-2-1 support.

  Motive8 Youth C.I.C is a non-profit organisation using the power of sport to engage and empower young people in Wolverhampton. £20,000 funding has been used to recruit 20 young people to undertake an eight-week challenge, including training to become an accredited sports coach, mentoring, undertaking volunteering sessions, and delivering a social action campaign.

  A Stitch Different CIC is a social enterprise made up of parent carers of young people with autism, ADHD, sensory and other disabilities in Barrow-in-Furness, who create weighted, compression and sensory products. With a fund of nearly £4,000, the organisation is working with older adults who have mental health issues, encouraging parent carers to volunteer to reduce feelings of isolation.

  Age UK Hull is a charity working in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire offering support and services to older people. The project has received nearly £27,000 to widen its Home Befriending Service in Kingston upon Hull, expected to support over 170 individuals suffering from isolation by providing regular home visits to older individuals.

Civil Society Minister, Stuart Andrew, said:- "During the Covid19 Pandemic, dedicated volunteers and charity workers came together to support our communities in a real time of need; from taking time to check in on neighbours to delivering prescriptions. We are determined to capture this brilliant spirit and see it continue, which is why I'm delighted to announce the launch of the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund. With funding already being allocated, this will create more opportunities for people to volunteer, learn new skills and connect with their communities across the country."

Rosemary Macdonald, CEO, UK Community Foundations said:- "Loneliness can impact anyone at any time in any community, and the work of voluntary organisations to reduce isolation and loneliness has been in higher demand since the Pandemic. The Know Your Neighbourhood Fund has enabled community foundations to provide vital support to initiatives that encourage impactful volunteering and community connectivity in some of the country's most vulnerable areas. Over the next 3 years, the insights we learn will help us to understand the issues impacting volunteering and social inclusion, and we're so grateful to the Government for this opportunity."

Elsewhere, the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund will create volunteering opportunities in local museums, voluntary arts groups such as community choirs, music and drama clubs, and connect communities through projects related to their high streets. This work will be supported by £5 million to creative arts and cultural organisations through Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.

A number of projects will be expanded following support from the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund, supported by £10 million from The National Lottery Community Fund. Examples of where this funding will go include:

Home-Start Knowsley is a family support charity that aims to provide early intervention for families with children under 11 with additional needs or disabilities. Funding of over £43,000 will enable the organisation to train more volunteers who will ensure support for more local families who are struggling through coffee mornings, advocacy, 1-1 support and activities to bring families together.

Rochdale Connections Trust has worked to support local people living across the Borough of Rochdale for over 20 years. Know Your Neighbourhood funding will enable the organisation to utilise a social prescriber to re-engage those who have become isolated, detached and lonely by developing a range of activities that meet the needs of the local community.

The Ashton Group Theatre in Barrow-in-Furness runs a programme of drama and arts activities for young people. Funding of over £37,000 will allow the organisation to deliver:- 'Let's Get Together' events which will be determined by the participants working in partnership with Theatre Factory. They will help build participants' confidence in their abilities, get more people involved and help make links with other groups to combat isolation.

This funding builds on the almost £50 million the Government and its partners have invested in tackling loneliness since 2018, including:- over £34 million in response to Covid19, as part of the £750 million voluntary and community sector funding package. This is in addition to the £4.6 million Volunteering Futures Fund launched in 2022, which will allow more than 160 community organisations to support 7,800 new volunteering opportunities.

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