Keeping your pets healthy and happy can be a challenge during the cold winter months, but there are some simple (and fun!) things you can do to keep your pet active and healthy.
January in the Treasure Valley, snow is falling, the sun is hiding, and we are all shivering. With shorter days, longer nights, and colder temperatures, it can be challenging for all of us —pet’s included—when ‘cabin fever’ sets in.
Your pet’s pent-up energy may result in destructive and negative behavior. A few signs of a restless/bored dog include unusual vocalizing (barking, howling, whining), accidents indoors, scratching at doors, and/or chewing on furniture, carpet, or shoes. In an effort to save your sofa and your sanity, here are few ideas to help the whole household cope with cabin fever.
Outdoor options. While the rest of the family is off to work or school, your dog remains home, and on particularly cold and snowy days this may mean he remains indoors the entire day. If temperatures are not sub-zero and walkways are cleared of ice and snow, make an effort to bring your dog outside for a few minutes. A quick walk (even to the bus stop or around the block) will help release some energy.
Interactive toys. On those wintery days when illness, weather, or a busy schedule keeps you inside, utilize an interactive toy. There are numerous toy options (such as a KONG) where you hide a treat inside and your pet will be occupied and busy trying to find it. Our dog received a stuffed tree with three squeaky squirrels inside for a Christmas gift. She loves trying to get all the squirrels out and will play with it over and over. An added bonus: these toys offer mental and physical stimulation for your pet.
Inside play. If you have stairs, try running your dog up and down a few times, or a game of fetch with a ball up and down the stairs would make a great workout. Long hallways, an empty garage or basement, or other safe indoor areas will serve as a nice back up for winter walks. ‘Hide and Seek’ is one of our family favorites. Give the dog the Down Stay command, then a child hides in the house and calls the dog to find them—a fun activity and good practice on obeying come/stay calls. Even a quick a game of tug with a rope toy while you catch the news or during commercials will keep your dog active. Note: senior dogs may be more inclined to slumber through winter days and nights, gently help them stay active, too.
Plan a play date. If your dog has a furry friend they enjoy, an indoor play date could be a great way to release some energy. In addition, there are numerous doggy day camps and day cares around Treasure Valley which offer a place for indoor exercise and play and socializing with other dogs. A visit a few days a week may be the solution for a lonely pet.
Don’t forget your feline. Cats who are accustomed to being indoors and outdoors during milder weather may become restless and bored as well. Schedule a little extra play time with a favorite toy to keep them entertained.
Sometimes, on these extra gray days in Southwestern Idaho it feels like spring is a long, long way off. If you feel some “Winter Blues” sneaking up on your household, make some time for play. Your pets will thank you—and you’ll end of feeling brighter and lighter yourself.