Winter has finally arrived! Just in time for us not to have a nice long holiday to look forward to. How do you keep your pets active and engaged when it’s so cold?
Playing fetch and taking your dog for long walks isn’t appealing when the wind chill is 9°, but the right clothing can make a huge difference. Get him a nice warm coat (that covers his underside, too!) or even booties for those who have trouble walking on the hard, cold ground. And the more active you and your dog are, the warmer you’ll both be. Off-leash play time helps get their heart rates up, but be careful if there is snow or ice on the ground – it’s harder for them to find their scent and subsequently their way back.
Indoor cats are used to being cooped up, but dogs can get into trouble if they don’t have something to do. You can play hide and seek with your dog in a couple of ways: have your dog stay and go hide with your pockets full of treats, or hide his toys with just a piece sticking out so he can find it. This is more mental stimulation than physical exercise, but it will keep him busy and happy! Playing tug-of-war with a sturdy toy is another good play option. If that’s just not cutting it for your companion, some places offer indoor training classes. (Our puppy kindergarten classes on Sunday mornings are inside!)
Having a feather toy or laser pointer is a good way to entertain your cats. You can also get puzzle toys for both canine and feline friends. You hide a treat in the toy and they work out how to get to it. This engages her both mentally and physically, giving her a nice reward for solving the puzzle. Make her earn those treats!
Above all, make sure your pet is safe. After spending time outside, wipe any snow, salt, or antifreeze off of their clothes or fur, and make sure you haven’t tracked any in on your shoes. The first two can irritate their coat and skin, and antifreeze can be deadly. Animals who spend more time out in the cold will need more calories to keep themselves warm, but don’t overdo it. Don’t leave your pet in your car in the cold weather, just as you wouldn’t in the heat. Bang on the top of your hood before starting your car – outdoor cats curl up in the warm space for heat, but they can be severely injured if you turn on the engine with them inside. Make sure your pets have a nice warm bed to curl up in for naps or at bedtime. They need their rest, and being cozy is just as important to them as it is to us!