It’s that time of year again. The weather dips to frigid temperatures. We don our hats, scarves and mittens. And soon the ground is blanketed in that wonderous white stuff.
Snow-covered ground and chilly temperatures may have you wondering what activities you can do with your pet. After all, dogs and cats still need exercise to maintain their weight and to stimulate them mentally in the winter months.
We’ve come up with a few activities that we think will be fun for you and your pet. Because, you know, “winter is coming.” (We just had to say it.)
FIRST, BUNDLE UP
For dogs, a short romp in the snow can be fun. Dogs love to play in the snow, and they’ll get the exercise they crave. Remember to keep your dog’s time outside short.
Yes, dogs have fur, but they still need to keep warm especially if your dog is short-haired. Dress your dog in a sweater or slicker to keep him warm and put winter booties on your dog’s paws to protect him from frostbite.
Aftercare is important, too. When you finish with your outing, wipe down your dog’s coat, ears, paws and face. Make sure there is no ice wedged anywhere – like between his toes — to avoid frostbite.
Now that you know how to care for your dog in the cold, let’s have fun!
HAVE AN A-MAZE-ING TIME
Create a maze in the snow for your dog to conquer. This is fun for the entire family. Have a family member start your dog at one end of the maze while you stand at the other end and call your dog. Your dog will love running through the maze to get to you. Make the maze as simple or elaborate as you want. Check YouTube for snow maze ideas.
Cats love mazes, too! But they don’t like the cold nor is it good for them. Let’s stay inside for amazing cat fun. Make a maze for your cat to play in out of furniture cushions or cardboard boxes. Place treats for your cat to find within the maze. Your maze can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like.
Dogs love to play fetch. Spend a bit of your outdoor time in the snow playing catch with a brightly colored ball or Frisbee made just for dogs.
For cats, the indoor version is a puzzle box. You can make a simple puzzle box using a clear plastic food container with holes cut in the lid. Put a few of your cat’s favorite toys inside and watch him go. Don’t have a plastic container you can spare? Make a puzzle box out of a Pringles container.
Being indoors is an unnatural state for a cat. Like their wild ancestors, they need the same mental stimulation and exercise. A study from the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery showed that cat food puzzles provide them with that.
Make a food puzzle box from a cardboard box. Cut holes in the box and place treats inside for kitty to go after. Food puzzle boxes for cats can be made from many things – from a toilet paper roll to an ice tray.
If your dog baby is an only child, arrange a playdate with a friend who also has a dog. The dogs can visit and play. Or take your dog to a doggie day care where he can interact with other dogs.
Cats can have a playdate, too – if they are the type who likes the company of other cats.
If your pup or kitty is the loveable kind that enjoys human interaction, call one of our local senior homes or assisted living centers to see if your dog or kitty can visit with the residents.
Ballad Health has a pet therapy certification program. Call (423) 431-2325 or visit their website to learn more about it.
Pets reduce stress and increase social interaction and physical activity in seniors. A visit from your pet could be good for you, your pet and the seniors. Sounds like a win for everyone!
Dress up and visit PetSmart in Kingsport for a picture with Santa. We think the best pictures are when you and your pet dress alike.
ENJOY THE CLASSICS
Pets love music. We’re sure you know that. Afterall, we love to rock out with our pets. Some dogs even sing along to their favorite tunes.
Funny YouTube videos aside, did you know that pets really do love classical music? Studies have found that classical music can be calming and mentally enriching for both dogs and cats.
Cats love music that is closer to the meowing and purring sounds that they make. The deep rich tones of a piano concerto produce a calming effect in cats while lively classical tunes can cause them to jump and play.
So, choose the classical tune for the effect you want to produce in your cat.
For dogs, classical music is calming. That is why it is used in re-homing centers for dogs. Cuddling-up with your puppy and listening to a bit of classical music is a great way to end the day.
Stumped on where to find the right classical music for your pet? Search your music provider or check YouTube for digital downloads. We found some titled “Music for Pets,” “Classical Music for Cats” and “Classical Music for Dogs” on Amazon, YouTube, Spotify and iTunes.
There you have it! Five fun winter activities to do with your pets. Do one or all of them. Most of all, have a great time!