Winter months can be daunting for both humans and pets.  Days are shorter, and what little there is makes us long for the summer.   Overcast skies, biting  winds, and streets covered with snow and ice lead to low energy and less interest in activity. Pets and humans alike have a tendency to experience the melancholy when winter arrives. Unlike people, pets cannot ward off­ the winter blues on their own. They rely on their owners to address restlessness.

Just Go For It–Walk, Run, Bike

If weather permits, head out of your home for a run or a catch or whatever you both enjoy. Exercise is a great medicine to cure the winter blues.  You can increase the benefit of the outdoors by interacting with other people and pets.   Studies have shown  that canines and humans see increases in oxytocin and dopamine levels (which are  neurological signs of happiness) following exercise and positive interactions with  one another.

Make Inside Time Play Time

If it’s just too cold to spend time outdoors, consider setting aside some time for indoor fun.  Both dogs and cats alike love play time. Dogs like chasing  a ball, playing tug of war, fetching a favorite squeaky toy and searching for a variety of things.  Cats go for simpler stimulus–a feather wand, a crumpled up paper ball or the cardboard core of your toilet paper.

School’s Open

Winter is a great time to reinforce old tricks or teach Fido a few new activities. Bonus:  you get to be comfy and warm seated on the couch!  Be creative, there’s more to life than “Sit” and “Roll Over”.  Head over to the library or go online to find hundreds of books that will give you ideas and insights.   Learning new things is healthy for dogs, and spending time while teaching tricks further strengthens the human-animal bond. It’s a sure-cure for the cabin fever that results when the weather outside does not cooperate.

Let the Sun Shine In

If you’re lucky enough to live in a home with natural light, let it in. If not, switch on some lamps; think about using brighter light bulbs.   Dogs and cats positively respond to illumination and tend to be peppier when the lights are brightened.

The Sweet Smells of Home

Scented toys capture the attention of dogs who love to explore and discover. Cats, of course, treasure catnip-filled toys and scratching posts coated with catnip.


Winter can be tough on both humans and four-legged companions.  So when you are winterizing your home, laying in supplies or breaking out the turtlenecks, think about what your pet will need to get through the cold dark days.  A ball, some catnip, some outdoor clothing.  Let’s all enjoy the Winter Wonderland!



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