With winter fast coming into full swing and the colder snaps getting us all reaching for our scarves, gloves and woolly hats, we just wanted to take a few minutes to run through how to keep your pets fit, happy and healthy over the season.
When it comes to looking after pets in winter, it’s not just cats and dogs that need to be considered, so we’ve gone for a more inclusive list to include the likes of rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters too.
It’s fairly natural to spend more time indoors in winter, and therefore your dog may not get out and about as often.
To keep them from getting frustrated and to keep them stimulated there are a few things you can do indoors:
- Sign them up for indoor obedience or agility classes where they’ll get to run around, socialise with other dogs and bond with you in a warm, safe environment.
- Set up games indoors at home, for example hide and seek where they need to find you, or a treat or two around the home.
- Make sure they’ve got stimulating toys to play with indoors, and play (controlled) games of fetch in the passageway or somewhere where there aren’t any hazards to them or you.
You can also get them out and about as regularly as the weather allows - dogs (and cats) enjoy running about in the snow, and you can play many of the same indoor games with them out in the garden - for example, hunting for treats, playing fetch and so forth.
You can also take them on walks or runs, but be aware of not exposing them for too long to the elements, and be sure to clean and dry them properly when you get back indoors.
Cats need just as much stimulation in winter as in the warmer months, so we’ve created a list of things you can do to make sure your feline is a happy one!
- Regular playtime is essential, so set aside time before meals to engage your cat with games such as chasing a toy prey of some kind, batting a ball, fetching and chase and search for the treat.
- Incorporate the stairs in your house (if you have them) to ensure your cat gets to use its balance, leaping and climbing skills
- Build their food into games too - for example, let them open a cat puzzle ball to extract the kibble.
- Build their excitement for toys by spraying them with catnip, and make sure you refresh their toy selection regularly.
- Take them outside if the weather permits and let them get exercise in their natural environment too - making sure of course to check paws and dry them off once done to keep them healthy.
Smaller Furry Friends…
For rabbits and smaller furry pets it’s just as important to keep them well-exercised - some ideas to help you do this include:
- Making sure they have friends to play with - rabbits especially are social creatures and need at least one friend around them all the time.
- Having an exercise run permanently attached to their hutch so that they can run around whenever they want to - try and include an area where they can run back and forth, dig and burrow as they would in the wild, as well as ramps, tunnels and mazes to keep them stimulated.
- For tiny pets like hamsters and guinea pigs, make sure they’ve got exercise wheels, tunnels, burrow space, climbing strings, mazes and balls to keep them multi-stimulated in their enclosure, but also be sure to get them out of their enclosure regularly for playtime with you.
With all the above activities it’s really important to take care to keep your pets safe, warm, well-groomed, well-fed and hydrated and protected from the worst of the elements.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local vet who will be able to advise you on the best course of action.