By Dr. Al Townshend
Winter, especially in Canada and the northern United States, can bring extremely cold weather that can put a pet at risk. It is still essential that pets get enough exercise, even with the colder temperatures.
Even though many northern states and Canadian provinces experience winter temperatures far below freezing, pets still need to be active in the winter. Inactive dogs or cats outside who are exposed to temperatures below freezing for periods can become vulnerable to hypothermia (low body temperature) and frostbite.
Without proper exercise, muscles weaken, including heart and respiratory muscles, skin, and hair can become itchy, toenails don’t get enough wear, and our pets tend to gain unwanted weight.
Things to Consider Before Going Outside
- Susceptibility to cold weather depends on not just the actual temperature; wind chill and length of time outside and exposed also are vital factors to consider.
- Dog coats, sweaters, and booties can protect the pet from the cold and wind and allow more time out.
- Guardians also need to stay active during the winter months. Putting on your hat, coat and, boots, and talking your dog out for winter activities is right for the pet and Guardian.
- Outdoor agility parks are great places to teach pets new activities and provide exercise.
- The most extended times outside should be at the warmest time of the day.
Indoor Activities to Consider in the Winter
- Indoor agility and day-care facilities are great resources for continuing needed activity during the winter months.
- Make meals and treats an adventure. Motivate your pet to get extra exercise by making them work for their meals and treats. There are great toys that make a pet think and work to gain a treat reward.
- A new toy for a cat is always a great way to stimulate activity.
- Walking your dog in a heated mall that allows pets can provide a safe place out of the weather.
Be sure and discuss winter activity ideas with any of the Ambassadors at your favorite Pet Planet store.