With colder temperatures and snow, keeping your pet happy and content can be a bit more challenging, especially if they (or you!) are not fans of winter months.
Also, with the extra demands of the holiday season, it can be a struggle to find enough quality time to spend with your pets. But despite the colder temperatures and crowded holiday schedules, it’s just as important to provide regular physical exercise and mental stimulation for your pets. Or hire someone who can help.
Pet Winter Safety: Active but Safe
Just like their human owners, pets can become bored, complacent and even engage in unwanted behaviors during a long, cold and inactive winter. With shorter daylight hours, it might be a good idea to bring in experienced pet care sitters to make sure Fido and Felix still get the exercise and companionship they need every day.
Regardless of the temperatures outside, your pets still require consistent exercise to maintain their optimal health. If it’s too cold outside for normal exercise, add some mental stimulation exercises indoors.
While some dog breeds are well-suited for the colder weather; others are not, especially with shorter hair and legs. Jackets can help keep heat loss to a minimum for your dog and K9 boots can help keep rock salt, chemicals and antifreeze from irritating exposed paws.
Especially when temperatures fall below freezing, limit your pet’s time in the outdoors and watch for potential frostbite on the extremities (ears, tails and paws). Also, wash or wipe your pet’s paws after every outing to remove dirt and ice. Also make sure to remove any ice from bellies, arms pits and on the butt for shorter dogs.
Take special care with senior pets who have arthritis or other joint conditions; the cold is not their friend. Pets with physical disabilities, sickness or chronic medical conditions also need close attention and protection in colder temperatures.
Keep Your Pet’s Mind Busy Too
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise to stop your pet from becoming bored, depressed, heavier with excess weight or even destructive.
- If inclement weather prohibits a long walk with your dog, bury toys/treats in the snow for them to discover. (This can be done inside as well.) Cats also enjoy hide-and-seek especially with treats that include catnip!
- Winter is a wonderful time to reinforce training (for both dogs and cats!) and learn new skills (keep sessions to approximately 15 minutes).
- Your cat is a natural hunter, so place perches near windows by bird or squirrel feeders to stimulate your cat’s natural instincts.
- Rotate your pet’s toys to alleviate boredom. Make sure to include some that reward interactive play with treats! Or try an enrichment toy like the Ruffle Snuffle Mat or make your own with these easy instructions from The Honest Kitchen!
Leave It to a Professional
When holidays, shorter days and colder months limit quality time with your pet, reach out to a local professional to assist in keeping your pet happy, engaged and tired.
- How to Keep Pets Healthy During Winter
- Brain Boosting Games: Keep Your Dog Mentally Sharp
- Kitty Konundrums: 4 Ways to Keep Cats Stimulated During Winter
- 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Active this Winter
- 5 Ways to Keep Your Cat Active this Winter