“How can I keep my dog ac­tive in win­ter?”

EatingWell - - FRESH | PETS - Deb­o­rah E. Lin­der, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.N., Tufts In­sti­tute for Hu­man-an­i­mal In­ter­ac­tion

For starters, keep go­ing for walks and play­ing out­side with your pup.

Win­ter gives you some unique op­por­tu­ni­ties: try set­ting up a back­yard scav­enger hunt by hid­ing kib­ble or toys in the snow or play­ing fetch with snow­balls. If you find it hard to muster the mo­ti­va­tion to bun­dle up, re­mem­ber that you’re get­ting the ben­e­fit too. Eighty per­cent of Amer­i­cans don’t get enough phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, and ex­er­cis­ing with your furry friend is a fun way to meet your health goals. Re­search also shows that reg­u­larly walk­ing your dog can lower stress lev­els, keep weight in check and in­crease your sense of com­mu­nity. Of course, keep safety in mind: be sure to use pet-safe prod­ucts to melt snow and ice that won’t hurt your dog’s paws and get pad-pro­tect­ing booties for walks. If your dog has very short fur, he may also need a coat, but for dogs with long or thick fur, it could ac­tu­ally cause him to over­heat. (Check with your vet if you’re not sure.) If it’s truly too cold to go out­side, there are plenty of in­door ac­tiv­i­ties to try in­stead. Food-dis­pens­ing toys and in­ter­ac­tive or puz­zle toys can be a great way to get him mov­ing in­doors. In­door agility cour­ses, found at many dog-train­ing fa­cil­i­ties, can also be fun. Feel­ing cre­ative? Make a DIY course at home with ob­sta­cles like boxes and kids’ tun­nels. Fi­nally, if your pet is over­weight, ask your vet about phys­i­cal ther­apy pro­grams. For in­stance, the Tufts Obe­sity Clinic for An­i­mals where I work has in­door un­der­wa­ter tread­mill and swim­ming in the win­ter to keep them ac­tive. For smaller dogs, you can even try this at home, su­per­vised in your bath­tub!

SOURCE: Jour­nal of Epi­demi­ol­ogy and Com­mu­nity Health

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