We understand that when winter hits, you likely want to slack off on your exercise routine—and your pet’s, too. The combination of frigid temperatures, icy conditions, and limited daylight is enough to make anyone choose to snuggle on a warm couch versus heading outside. But, despite winter’s challenges, this season offers some unique opportunities to exercise and be active with your pet. Here are some reasons to make the most of all that winter has to offer.
#1: Exercising in the winter benefits your health
We all know that regular exercise is essential for overall wellness, and the same goes for our pets. Getting in 30 minutes of moderate movement each day does wonders for our cardiovascular systems, and for keeping our weight in check. But, exercising in the winter may offer additional benefits, such as improved immunity, and may also increase the amount of calories you may burn. Exercising in winter weather frees you and your pet from disease-causing parasites, like mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks, and may be safer than heading out in the summer when pets are at risk for overheating or heatstroke.
#2: Exercising can help you and your pet beat the winter blues
That a good workout can boost serotonin levels and put some spring back into your step is no secret. Presumably, our pets experience a similar high when they exercise. Because of decreased daylight hours, less sun exposure, and other factors that contribute to seasonal disorders, making time to move your body is incredibly important during the winter months—especially activities that you can do outside. And, who better to accompany you for a sweat session than your beloved pet? After all, research shows that interacting with pets can decrease your anxiety and improve your mood.
#3: Winter provides opportunities for new outdoor activities
If you’re fond of bundling up and facing the weather, learning a new winter sport may be a great option for you and your medium or large-size dog.
- Mushing — Dog sledding or “mushing,” is the ultimate canine winter activity, and involves training your pooch to pull you on a specialized sled. Developed by the native and Inuit peoples of Canada, likely as a means of transportation, dog sledding is now a wildly popular—and competitive—sport across the globe.
- Skijoring — Skijoring combines cross country skiing with dog sledding to create a fun, competitive, and exhilarating workout. Derived from the Norwegian word, skikjøring, the name translates to “ski driving,” and has become increasingly popular across the United States.
- Canicross — Another option is canicross, which essentially involves cross country running, but with your dog. Canicross was originally developed as an off-season workout for sled dogs, but is often performed in chilly conditions.
You and your dog can also enjoy classic winter activities, like hiking and snowshoeing.
#4: Winter can help you get creative with indoor activities
If frigid temps and blustery conditions aren’t your forte, you can find plenty of ways to exercise with your pet in the comfort of your own, warm, home. If you own a treadmill, you can teach your dog or cat to safely use one to get in their daily steps. With enough practice, Fido can learn some basic yoga moves, and accompany you during a living room session. Classic games like fetch, laser pointer play, or obstacle courses can easily be adapted for indoor play. Inviting four-legged—and two-legged—friends to your house to play is another great way to break up the winter monotony, and help your pet burn some calories. If you and your pet have cabin fever, letting your pet spend a day at your local doggy day care or indoor pet play center may be the way to go.
At Columbia Pike Animal Hospital, we want to help you and your pet keep moving this winter. If you have questions or concerns, or are considering starting a new seasonal exercise regimen with your pet, contact us and make an appointment, so we can ensure your pet is adequately healthy for the activity.