dog wearing sweater in snow

Exercise is an important component of living the healthiest life possible for our fur friends. But when the cold weather comes along, our desire to get out and take care of Fido’s fitness needs goes to the wayside. Along with inclement weather, the holidays keep life hectic and it’s easy to forget to take those daily walks or opportunities to play.

The team at Long Animal Hospital want to remind our pet families to keep their pets moving this season. Not only is it good for our pets, the extra time to walk and bond with our furry companions is healthy for us, too. Here are some recommendations for how to exercise your pet during the winter months.

The Winter “Slows” and Caloric Intake

Have you ever wondered why you feel like hibernating in the winter? There are definite affects when the days are short and the temperatures drop. This is also true for our pets, who don’t mind a good snuggle on the couch with us. 

The metabolic rates of our animal companions actually slow down this time of year. This is a way for them to survive in the wild during the long winter on fewer calories. Unfortunately, this remnants of life in the wild don’t exactly match up to the fact that we feed our pets the same amount during the winter. 

If you find that you are exercising your pet less in winter, that’s okay. The important thing is that they do get exercise and try to restrict extra calories, like treats.

Creative Ways to Exercise Your Pet in Winter

Since we have to exercise ours pets to maintain their good physical and mental health, there are some fun ways we can add in playtime and exercise.

  1. Indoor agility – Set up a rec room or basement with a purchased agility set or make your own using baby gates, tubes, empty boxes, aerobic steps, etc. Go online and look for pet agility workouts and take your dog (or cat) through them.

  2. Dance – Your pet may never learn to tango, but you can always put on high energy music and dance with them. The very fact that you’re shaking a tail feather can inspire them to jump, run around, and play to the music.

  3. Go for laps at the mall – Take your well mannered pet to a mall that allows pets and walk laps. This is a good way to socialize your pet, too, as you continue to expose them to strangers, kids, and other pets.

  4. Climb steps – If you have steps in your home, put them to use. Leash your pet and walk up and down the steps. You can also put on good tunes to get you two in upbeat spirits. You can also do this with a cat, if your kitty doesn’t mind walking on a harness and leash.

  5. Play hide-and-seek – Stash some favorite toys, healthy treats or snacks (baby carrot or blueberries) around the home. This is an awesome way to encourage enrichment and help wile away the hours when it is too cold to go outside.

  6. Throw a party for pets – Invite your pet loving friends to come over with their pets. Serve healthy people foods, like green beans, banana and strawberry chunks, and baby carrots, along with some healthy dog or cat treats (you can find several recipes on Pinterest). Play hide-and-seek, fetch, and other group oriented games.

  7. Sign up for a class together – Have you ever thought about learning a new skill with your Fido or furry? Why not sign up for trick training or advanced training classes, or something unusual and exercise inspired, like doga, a spin on yoga that includes pets. If your pet doesn’t know how to swim, swimming lessons can be a great way to exercise and prepare for next year’s beach time.
  8. Bundle up and go – Sometimes, you just need to get out in the fresh air and sunshine. Just take extra care to keep your pet warm and comfortable. Find a good fitting jacket for them, along with rain gear and booties to protect their paws. Head out to run, jog, or walk through your favorite neighborhood. Plan on spending less time out, between 20-30 minutes, but the time out will be welcomed after being indoors so much. 

We hope these ideas help get your creative juices flowing when it comes to exercise for your pet. Doing new things together makes all the difference in alleviating boredom and adding a spark to the long days ahead.

If we can answer any questions about ways to exercise your pet, or to schedule an appointment, please call us!