WITH strong gales and heavy rain forecast once again this weekend, taking the dog out for a walk can be a bit of a nightmare for pet owners. 

With Storm Dennis set to be a right menace across the UK on Saturday and Sunday, Dogs Trust is providing top tips and advice on how to keep our four-legged friends happy and safe.

Catherine Dobbie, Veterinary Surgeon at Dogs Trust, said: “Extreme weather and thunderstorms can be distressing for dogs.

"Signs to look out for include pacing around the home, excessive barking, or trying to run and hide.

"There are steps owners can take to comfort their dog and help them cope if their dogs are becoming anxious.

"If you’re worried about the weather, keep your dog indoors as much as possible.”

Top tips include:

• If you can't get outside during the storm..

If the storm is disrupting your dog’s exercise routine, activities such as a toy filled with food so that they can use up some energy playing and ‘exploring’ for food, often work well.

Games like this can also be a great distraction from any unsettling sounds.

• Provide a safe hiding place

Make sure your dog has somewhere safe in their favourite room, perhaps under a table.

Close curtains, turn lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to mask the sounds of the storm.

If your dog just wants to hide away...

Don't force them to come out of their hiding place, allow them to stay where they feel safe.

When the storm is over and you're able to head out safely...

Always keep your dog on a lead in case they get scared by any sudden noises.

• If you are near an area that may flood...

Be aware that flood water could contain raw sewage, and might be contaminated.

Keep you and your pet out of it as the water could contain toxins, which could be dangerous to your pet if swallowed, and could remain on their coat if not bathed properly.

• Make sure your pet has dry shelter

Pet owners should know where their pets are at all times.

If there is any risk to pets kept outside, ensure they have a safe and dry shelter, or if appropriate bring them indoors.

They may be scared and unsure and will need reassurance.

For more information and advice visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/advice