Written by Nicole Gunkel, RVT

When it ™s really cold and blustery or raining, the temptation to curl up on the couch can be irresistible for both our pets and us.  It ™s important for our pets ™ health to find ways to stay limber and fit, both in body and mind.  I asked some of our staff to share some tips that they like to do with their own pets.

Staying In

Take some time to play indoors.  You can hide treats around the house or in a toy that will force your pets to think a bit about how to get the treats out. The œBuster Cube  is a great example.  Lure or have your pet follow you up and down stairs, if you have them.  Does your pet play fetch?  Throw a ball or other toy down a hallway or other open area.  Rainy days inside are a great time to teach your pet a new trick or practice some simple obedience.  If your dog has a backpack, go ahead and put it on with a little weight while moving around inside.  Laser pointers are great for many cats and some dogs to get them moving about.  Get your pet a new toy that will excite them into playing.  A good scratching post will help cats wear their nails and stretch those muscles at the same time.  And for those who can ™t be enticed by other methods, you may just need to pick up Fluffy and move them across the house so they will have to walk the distance to go back and lay down!


If your pet is not active, you may want to consider decreasing the amount of food your pet is consuming by 25-30%.  Keeping your pet at a lean body condition can increase your pet ™s lifespan by up to 2 years!  You can also use kibble from your pet ™s daily meal allocation as treats instead of adding in extra calories by adding special treats.  Healthy snacks such as vegetables (broccoli, carrots, etc.) or low calorie pet treats can be given.  Most pets can count (they know how many treats they should get), but size doesn ™t seem to matter.  Give them the same number of treats, but in smaller sizes.  œPlain Joe ™s O ™s  and œCharlee Bears  work great!

Get Out

River wearing her thrift store sweater.

It ™s good for us to get moving, even if it means you are just walking around the block.  If you and you ™re pet are dressed appropriately it won ™t matter if it ™s a little cool.  In San Luis Obispo County, we are lucky to have pretty moderate temperatures and weather compared to other parts of the country. 

[In yucky or cold weather be sure to bundle up appropriately.  If your dog has a short hair coat, get them a jacket or sweater.  I got a children ™s sweater at a thrift store as an inexpensive way to keep my dog warm.]  Schedule a play date with friend ™s pets outside or at someone ™s house.  Enroll in an obedience or agility class.  You can also take your pet to visit a local pet store that allows leashed pets.

Enjoy those winter months and stay fit so you will be ready to play hard this spring!