A dog rescue charity has issued its own warning to owners after temperatures dropped and snow fell across south Essex yesterday.

Following the Met Office's yellow weather warning for ice, which was in force across the county until 3am today, Dogs Trust Basildon is warning of the dangers frozen over swimming spots pose for both dogs and owners alike.

The ice may not be thick enough to take the dog’s weight, and they could fall through into the freezing water underneath, the charity warns.

Jenna Kiddie, head of canine behaviour at Dogs Trust, says: “Temperatures have dropped significantly over the last few days, and many ponds and lakes have frozen over. While these might provide tempting opportunities for your dog to explore, ice can be incredibly dangerous for both you and your dog.

“If you are walking your dog anywhere near a frozen lake or pond, keep them on a lead. If your dog does fall through the ice, don’t enter the water to save them as this could lead to you requiring an emergency rescue, and could cause you serious harm.”

The charity strongly advises owners that, if their pet does fall through the ice, they should never be tempted to go in after them, as the effects of cold water shock on people can be fatal - potentially causing heart attacks, even in the relatively young and healthy. 

The involuntary gasps and panic caused by sudden immersion in cold water can also increase the chance of inhaling water directly into the lungs.

This could also inadvertently put the dog at more risk, as any emergency services who may be able to help, such as fire and rescue crews, will prioritise saving the owners struggling in freezing water over the safety of their pet.

Instead, owners are urged to encourage their dogs to swim back to them, and to call 999 in an emergency.