Cold Fun

Some dogs simply don’t like the cold. Kristen Collins, a director with the ASPCA, says with a few simple training tricks, and the right attire, you can teach your pets to be more enthusiastic about playing outdoors.

Entice your dog with off-leash exercise. The more active they are, the warmer they’ll be.
Offer special treats for going outside.
Walk in the woods, or off your regular path. The new sense, sights and sounds will be a pleasant distraction from the cold.

Cat play

Keeping your cat active in the winter months can be challenging. Marla McGeorge, DVM, of The Cat Doctor animal hospital in Portland, Oregon, suggests building an agility course through your house. It is fun for your family and it helps your pets fight obesity and boredom, two very common cat problems. Remember, cats have short bursts of energy; you’ll be lucky to get 10 minutes of play in a day.

Fish on ice

With the threat of power outages during the winter months increasing, its imperative that aquarium owners are prepared for cold days to come. Greg Lewbart, MS, VMD, DACZM and professor of Aquatic, Wildlife and Zoological Medicine at North Carolina State University, recommends insulating aquariums with blankets, keeping the water temperature for tropical fish above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. He also suggests not feeding the fish during the outage. In the winter, the fish’s metabolism slows, requiring less food. The excess food will only pollute the water. Also, check ammonia levels.

Safe from the cold

The winter weather poses some health risks for our furry friends. The American Veterinary Medical Association has several recommendations to keep your pets safe during these cold months.

  • Cold weather can worsen some medical conditions like arthritis. Now is a good time
    to have your pet checked out to make sure they’re ready for the cold.
  • Know your pets limits and be aware of their tolerance to the cold. Body fat, length/thickness of fur and existing illnesses are all factors you should consider when venturing outside.
  • Give them a couple of bedding options so they don’t get overheated or too cold.
  • Keep your pets indoors. Certain dogs are bred for colder climates, but when the temperatures drop below freezing, its time to bring them inside.
  • Before starting your car, make a little noise to make sure a feral cat isn’t using your vehicle for shelter.
  • While out on walks, check your dogs paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury.