Winter Activities for Pets

Cabin fever can easily set in during the winter months for pet parents and pets due to icy sidewalks and heavy snowfalls, making it difficult to take pets outside. But if a pet parent doesn’t keep their pet active with activities and/or exercise, pets can develop behavioral issues and anxiety. Luckily, there are creative and fun ideas to bond with a pet during the winter months ahead.

Too often, pet parents find something in their pet’s mouth that they shouldn’t have. A winter day is the perfect time to pet proof a home by checking loose wires, decorative plants, accessible trashcans, children’s toys or any other spots a pet can find mischief. It doesn’t exactly sound like fun, but taking the time to clean a pet’s belongings including their bowls, bed and toys will keep a pet more hygienic. Treating a pet to a good solid brushing or bath will help shed fur and skin cells, create a shinier coat and promote better skin circulation. Other grooming techniques that a pet parent can do is clip their pet’s nails and brush their teeth.

These chores help keep a pet safe and healthy but they still need mental and physical stimulation. A new trick is always a good way to pass some time, and pet parents can use this time to combine obedience training and reward good behavior when the pet performs the new trick correctly. Invite a friend over who also has a pet, so that the two pets can get some exercise and social interaction. If there are any ratty old shirts or rags laying around, there are easy ideas online that detail how to make a DIY pet toy. As long as there is a clear area, play as long and hard as a pet wants with this new toy. With pets that are larger or have more energy, try playing in the basement or garage (with the car pulled outside) for a bigger open area.

Hide and seek can be a fun game to play with a pet by hiding random treats around a home and watching a pet sniff them out, but remember to not put the treats by nice furniture. While playing fetch, throw a toy upstairs, if there are any, so that the pet gets more exercise with their legs. Making an agility course with chairs to weave around or toss a blanket over will create a makeshift tunnel for them to run under. Other things such as a broomstick or hula hoop will make the course more interactive.

While all the ideas listed above can be used for cats too, other ones include making a sort of jungle of cat pleasing plants for them to explore, but make sure that the plants are cat safe. Cat parents can also keep their cat occupied by placing bird and squirrel feeders outside so that the cat is entertained by wildlife. Perches by windows or on shelves will get them closer to the action. Keep an eye out for those post-holiday discounts and invest in a new intellectual toy, scratching post or cat tree.

After all the fun and games, there is nothing better than ending the day cuddling, so take advantage of the opportunity winter weather provides until springtime returns and take this time to bond more with a pet.

-from National Association of Pet Sitters

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