Your dog may have been perfectly happy to spend the winter napping in a square of sunlight on the floor. But this may be the time to wake him and get him to exercise or play.
Spring is just around the corner, so veterinarians from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are recommending ways that pets can increase their exercise and play time to shed some winter weight.
“Exercise can be a good way of bonding with a pet, and they require that physical activity,” said Dr. David Wohlstadter, a senior clinician in emergency medicine for BluePearl. “They can’t just sit around all day.”
Pets, like humans, are healthier and happier when they stay active. But pets, like humans, tend to lounge around the house during winter. So here are some tips for getting more active as the weather improves:
- Consider an indoor play area for dogs. You may be surprised at indoor pet facilities you can find in your area.
- Inside the house, play fetch or have a tug of war with dogs or cats to encourage some physical activity.
- Go outside with your dog, even if it’s still cold, but use caution and don’t over-do it. If there’s snow on the ground, you can find plastic booties for pets at pet stores. Always keep your dog on a leash in the snow.
- As the weather warms, consider taking your dog for walks or runs – which incidentally, can be good for humans also. But start slow, and increase the workouts gradually. Also, consult with your family veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy enough for this kind of exercise, especially if your dog is older, or in a breed known to have breathing difficulties (such as bulldogs.)
- Remember that once winter fades, pets can suffer from heat exhaustion, even on days that don’t seem terribly hot for humans. When it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for your dog.
And here’s one thing not to do, says Wohlstadter. Don’t try to combine bicycle riding with walking your dog. What could possibly go wrong? It’s really easy to overexert your dog this way, because she will try her best to keep up as you effortlessly pedal along. Also, you might hit her or someone else.
Keep up the exercise, and you may find that it’s one of your favorite ways to spend time with your pet. You may even find that it helps you fit into your bathing suit.