Keeping Your Animal Active in Winter
In the warmer months, your animal companion may easily get plenty of exercise. Dogs may get nice, long walks with you, cats may roam the neighborhood, rabbits may get to spend some time in the yard. But in winter, the need to protect your animal from the cold temperatures means less outside time and less obvious opportunities for exercise. So, what can you do to keep your animal active and fit, both physically and mentally, through the winter? Read on for some cold weather exercise tips.
Taking your dog for a walk is still a great idea in winter, with a few caveats. Walks should be shorter than they would be in warmer weather. Short-haired dogs may benefit from wearing a sweater to help keep them warm, and booties can help all dogs avoid the sting of ice or ice melting chemicals on their paws. And be sure to bring a towel along to periodically dry off any ice or snow that may be sticking to her feet or tummy. For some indoor fun that exercises your dog’s brain as well as her body, offer a treat puzzle. Place some treats inside the puzzle and your dog will work to figure out how to get the treats. Depending on the complexity of the puzzle, this toy could keep your dog moving and thinking for a long time.
Similarly, cats will benefit from toys (homemade or store bought) and climbing structures indoors. Balls, springs, play mice, and treat puzzles will keep cats entertained and active for long stretches. To make your own combination treat puzzle and climbing structure, place treats on different levels in a room, such as the tops of furniture or on different shelf heights of bookshelves. Cats will jump and climb to reach the treats and get lots of exercise and mental stimulation in the process. Another fun game to play with your cat that will keep her mind and body busy is to shine a laser pointer around in different places and let your cat burn some calories by running around trying to catch the light.
Rabbits also need time outside the cage every day, and in winter that time should be spent indoors. Provide your rabbit with different environments to explore every week or so by changing up the location and toys you put out. Be sure that the environment is safe for your rabbit by putting away anything he can chew (think electrical cords and the like) and providing rabbit-friendly toys, such as some bamboo sticks, a bag of shredded papers, or a store-bought toy. You can purchase something specifically made for rabbits, or they will happily play with balls made for cats or bird toys.
With a little imagination, you can easily keep your animal companion physically and mentally sharp through the winter months. As an added bonus, these games and activities will also keep you moving and entertained, as well as strengthen the bond with your animal companion, making those cold winter days feel much warmer.