Pet Health Indoors and Out

Eating Habits 
Being overweight can lead to a long list of health problems for pets, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and torn ligaments.  It is important to remember not to overdo treats and leftovers.  Not only can these treats lead to weight gain, but some human foods can disrupt a pet's sensitive digestive tract, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.  Other human foods, such as chocolate and onions, can actually be toxic.  Remember not to leave out that tempting garbage can where pets can reach it.

Winter exercise
Establishing a year-round exercise routine may also help prevent unnecessary weight gain during the winter months when pets are less likely to be active.  Exercising outdoors can give animals an opportunity to stretch, run and play in open spaces.

Since our days are shorter, often when we come home it is already dark outside.  Consider purchasing a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee to toss around outside.  Sometimes dogs will chase the light from a flashlight or laser pointer shone on the snow.

Time spent outside in cold weather should be limited because of the potential for hypothermia or frostbite.  Doggie sweaters, coats and boots can help keep canine companions warm.

If snow and ice simply make outdoor play impossible, consider enrolling your pet in a doggy day camp program. These programs are designed to let dogs exercise and play with other dogs in a safe, supervised, indoor environment. Most dogs can benefit significantly by participating just once or twice each week.

Indoor games like hide-and-seek, tug-of-war, and fetch can also provide both a healthy activity and human-animal bonding.  

Outdoor supervision

Pets should always be supervised outdoors.  Here are some signs to watch for in winter weather that your pet might be too cold:

  • Excessive or abnormal vocalization
  • Avoiding contact with cold surfaces
  • A reluctance to move
  • Shivering

Frostbite can develop after prolonged exposure to the cold.  If frostbite is suspected, wrap your pet in a warm towel and seek veterinary help immediately - Do not warm your pet with a heating blanket, pad or heat lamp.      __________________________________________________________________________

Winter is not the only time to pay close attention to pets' health.  The following year round recommendations can benefit your pets' life in the long run _________________________________________________________________

Provide regular exercise   Every dog needs a daily exercise routine.  Sporting and working breeds require up to 1 hour of aerobic activity a day, at the bare minimum.

Schedule regular dental exams   Oral bacteria from tartar and infections can affect more than the gums and teeth.  Internal organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys are also affected.  Brushing your pets' teeth and routine cleanings can extend your pets' life by 3-5 years.

Groom regularly   Grooming not only keeps your pet comfortable, but it is a great bonding experience.  Brushing out matted fur, washing paw pads that walk in the salted sidewalks, and cleaning eyes and ears are essential grooming tasks that can't be overlooked. 

Feed an appropriate diet   Every pet has different nutritional needs based on many factors such as weight, age, and activity level.  Some pets require special diets for life.