Winter isn’t coming…it’s here! With the cold weather, comes the urge to stay on the couch under a blanket as much as possible; even our house pets may feel the urge to “hibernate”. But physical activity is as important to our pets' health as it is to our own. Here are a few ideas to help keep Fluffy moving and to strengthen your bond with your pet during the cold winter months:
- Hide and seek – have a partner keep your cat or dog restrained to one room while you run and hide. Try touching random things along your way to leave a scent trail for your pet to follow. Then... release the hound!
- Scent tracking – Take a favourite treat or toy and get your dog engaged and excited about it. Then hide it and allow your pet to search it out. Start small. Let your pet watch you place the toy under a pillow so it’s easy for him/her to find at first, then gradually increase the difficulty.
- Brain games – toys like food balls, treat puzzle and mazes can really help to challenge your pet. Mental activity is just as important as physical activity especially for many 'working' breeds of dogs. Cats and pocket pets can also benefit from problem solving activities too. As a side benefit, if they solve the puzzle they are instantly rewarded for their efforts and learn self-motivation!
- Explore new terrain- take advantage of the bright sunny crisp days to explore a new park or walking trail. Challenging your pet on new hills, slopes or trails keeps them interested in the outdoors and gives their sniffers a whole new set of aromas to check out!
Remember when outdoors, that our pet family members (even those with longer dense coats) are still prone to health conditions iike hypothermia and dehydration. Offer plenty of fresh water breaks and the opportunity to warm up after outdoor activities and be mindful of the windchill! Additionally, as the ice and snow build up throughout winter, walkways can become saturated with sand, gravel and salt. Be sure to wash your pet's paws when they come inside to remove any particles and wash off the salt which can irritate their paw pads.